A team of Volvo pipelayers are getting in the groove, helping to deliver Greece’s most ambitious high pressured natural gas pipeline.
DESFA, the gas transmission system operator in Greece has ordered state owned public gas corporation, DEPA SA, to supply the country’s largest and most expensive high-pressured natural gas pipeline ever.
A large, on-going infrastructure development in the south east of Greece might be a rare sight in the current economic climate, but the DESFA Project has been in motion since the summer of 2012. DEPA SA expects the pipeline to be ready for gas transportation in late 2013, which will make a significant contribution to the Greek National Gas Transmission System (NGTS).
DEPA SA has awarded the project to TÜV AUSTRIA HELLAS, after the successful participation in an open public bid. Covering a distance of 164 km, the pipeline will start in Agioi Theodoroi, a suburb of Athens located in the southeast, and end at the premises of PPC Megalopolis, a power plant in the southwestern part of Arcadia, southern Greece, situated on the coast, which separates the Peloponnese region from the mainland.
Pipeline contractor, Joannou & Paraskevaides Limited (J&P) is the second largest construction company in Greece and is using Volvo Construction Equipment’s (Volvo CE) excavator-based pipelayers for the first time after seeing an impressive lowering-in demonstration during a visit to America. J&P is relying 100% on Volvo CE’s pipe laying technology for all pipe handling duties with not an old fashioned side boom in sight.
Travelling across the furthest distance, 24 inch wide pipe will be used, with around 16 km of 30 inch wide pipe used for a smaller section of the project. The pipeline will enable modern technology to be used in the production of electricity with minimal environmental impact.
The resulting production capacity will stabilize the electricity network in south west Greece, to satisfy the region’s growing demand. It will also allow other generating stations currently running on lignite, oil or gas to be replaced and, eventually, closed.
It will result in a reduction of pollutants such as NOx, CO, SO² and CO²; combining environmental and economic advantages since the cost for natural gas is lower than crude oil.
To help out with the earth works and welding, J&P is using sub-contractors, but has retained about 50 of its own employees. The earth works started in Megalopolis in the Peloponnese, (the end of the pipeline), are continuing towards Agioi Theodoroi. Liquefied natural gas (LNG), mainly from Algeria as well as gas from Russia, will be processed through the refinery and transported to the electrical power station in Megalopolis.
At the time of writing, the pipeline project is slightly ahead of schedule, despite periods of heavy rain that made conditions slippery and difficult. Furthermore, landscape in the Peloponnese region is mountainous and while altitudes are not very high. The contractor has regularly encountered steep slopes.
On the job site there are five Volvo PL4608 pipelayers (80 ton tipping capacity) and three of the latest and smaller PL3005D models (50 ton tipping capacity). Mr John Joannou, responsible for machine procurement at J&P said: “I was impressed by the machine’s excellent stability. The 360 degree swing capability, cab comfort and the Load Management System are much appreciated on this hilly project.”
The pipelayer operators were quick to learn how the unique swing capability can help them in such conditions. By enabling the operator to point the boom uphill, this function effectively moves the machine’s center of gravity, increasing its stability when working on slopes.
The machines are being used to hold the pipe steady for welding in addition to laying-in operations. The larger PL4808 units are being used for laying-in, although the pipe size on this particular project would be well within the capability of the PL3005D series.
Pipelayer operator, Panagiotis Sotiropoulus, stepped down from ‘his’ machine saying: “I like the hydraulic cab raiser very much and I can look easily into the trench.” He also appreciated the cab comfort – something he was not used to from his experience of a side boom pipelayer. “The Volvo CE pipelayers are very easy to understand and to operate, especially if you have an excavator operating background,” adds Sotiropoulus.
“The Load Management System is a fantastic help in the lowering-in application. As an operator you can see the workloads of the other machines, thanks to a system of lights mounted on both sides of the boom. If one machine is overloaded you can see that and help – making the whole work process much safer and the lowering-in foreman’s life much easier.”
In addition to the external boom-mounted light bars, the Volvo Load Management System provides real-time information to the operator on an in-cab monitor, so they can see their load at all times. The system continuously monitors the load in relation to the slope and the orientation of the upper structure.
One PL3005D was working together with the pipe bending machine in the pipe yard. In this type of application the upper structure swing really facilitates the process, using the swing to move the pipes smoothly through 180° from the stockpile to the bending machine.
As the undercarriage remains static, there is no disruption to the underfoot conditions – a factor not to be underestimated when conditions become wet and muddy. Not only does this speed up the bending procedure it also minimizes wear on the undercarriage parts.
All eight of the Volvo CE pipelayers are equipped with Volvo’s CareTrack telematics system, enabling remote machine monitoring. According to J&P’s site manager Georg Manis: “We really appreciate CareTrack and its ability to carefully track the machines, which enables us to work very closely with our local Volvo dealer– Saracakis Brothers SA – to plan any service or maintenance requirements that will keep the machines operational.”
This pipeline project was designed to allow for the future extension of the pipeline in the wider area of the Peloponnese area (Patra, Kalamata and Sparta). For the main area of Megalopolis it will enable major deficiencies in primary energy demand to be effectively subsidised with a cheap and environmentally friendly fuel.
Picture 1: The Volvo PL3005D – the perfect partner for the bending machine; its upper structure swing enabling it to smoothly swing the pipe through 180° from the stock pile with no damage to underfoot conditions.
Picture 2: Tough, hilly conditions pose no problem for the Volvo PL4608 pipelayers.