One of Volvo Construction Equipment’s (Volvo CE) customers, Stroymontazh based in the Siberian town of Sovetsky, Russia, is using Volvo CE machines to maintain and repair the vast oil and gas pipeline network in Russia, covering many thousands of kilometers.
Surrounded by marshy swampland, and working in temperatures ranging from -50°C to +40°C, Volvo CE machines carry on relentlessly, repairing and replacing oil and gas pipes in and around Sovetsky, Russia. The capital of the province, Khanty-Mansiysk, is famously known as an oil boom town, giving it industrial importance within the area.
Russia has a total pipeline network of around 260,000km, which requires continuous maintenance and repair. The pipeline owner frequently inspects the lines and indicates which sections need a make-over. On occasions just a few hundred meters of pipeline need attention, but sometimes it can be up to 20km. Russian contractor, Stroymontazh, has been hired to take care of these repairs.
“We work all year round on different projects but the majority of the work is done during the winter season. As far as the machinery is concerned, we try not to use the vehicles in temperatures below -40°C,” says Andrey Merlin, deputy general director at Stroymontazh. The company employs 200 people across its job sites and works on a number of different projects for its clients simultaneously.
The company relies on its machines to be steady, smooth, precise and powerful – vital pipe laying qualities. “It’s pretty simple – the pipe layers are essential because without them the work could not be completed,” says Andrey.
Ferrondoric has been working with Stromontazh since 2004. “We have built up a great relationship with the customer over years of business,” says Alexander Khodunov, key account manager at Ferronordic. “At the moment Stroymontazh uses Volvo CE excavators, wheel loaders, graders and pipe layers, owning a total of 15 machines.”
For crude oil the metal pipes can extend to 1.21m (48 inches) in diameter and gas pipes can reach up to 1.42m (56 inches). The sections under repair can weigh several hundred tons and the trench size varies depending on its location and climatic conditions. High variations in temperature throughout the year can cause problems too, accelerating the aging process of the pipeline.
Underground, the depth from the pipe to the surface ranges from one meter to six meters depending on a number of factors. “Sections of the pipeline subject for repair are lifted out of the trench in the ground by the pipe layer machines,” explains Andrey. “Then it’s inspected for any damage. If the pipe is damaged, the section is cut out and a new piece is welded into the gap and covered with a new protective coating. Often the work involves renewing the pipe coating in order to extend the pipe’s lifetime.”
“There are a few reasons why we use Volvo CE machines,” says Andrey. “The turnable upper structure of the machine provides a lot of additional maneuvering during various operations in an often restricted work area.
The PL4608 machines work in harmony with the job at hand. The smooth movement of the vehicle is crucial in operations such as lowering and lifting, and welding of the pipe joints. “Also”, says Andrey, “the PL4608 can be used as an excavator, with no loss of performance, when no pipe laying duties are required. This means within its lifetime period, the machine will prove more cost-effective than a conventional side boom pipe layer.
“Volvo’s PL4608 machines do exactly what they say,” concludes Andrey. “They lay and lift pipes, efficiently, accurately and with ease in any conditions thrown at them.”
Picture 1: Volvo pipe layers hold the enormous pipes in place
Picture 2: The pipe line surrounded by swamp land
Picture 3: The icy conditions won't stop a Volvo