Bechtel built 330 miles (some 530 kilometers) of natural gas pipeline for a joint venture of BP and Sonatrach
Our work comprised a very-large-diameter pipeline stretching north to south, from Krechba to the national gas distribution hub in Hassi R’Mel, from which Algeria exports the natural gas to European markets, and smaller-diameter lines transporting natural gas directly from the new Reg and Teg fields to Krechba. We completed construction two months ahead of schedule.
BP’s project director, Paul Bibby, noted “the sheer determination of the Bechtel construction team to forge ahead and find solutions to every difficulty.” And we managed to work safely (our approach cited within BP as a “best practice”) while finishing ahead of schedule. Difficulties included:
- Boring through rock of unpredictable hardness
- Moving some 177 million square feet (about 5 million cubic meters) of sand
- Working in isolation amid extreme heat and powerful sandstorms
Algeria, Africa’s leading producer, relies heavily on revenues from the sale of natural gas as well as oil. With this section of pipeline complete, Algeria became—and remains—Europe’s second-largest supplier of natural gas.
We constructed the pipeline using some of the largest chain-type trenching machines in the world. The project team dealt with southern Sahara sand dunes as tall as 13 stories and tore through huge deposits of uncommonly hard rock. In the southern portion of the project, high temperatures between June and September averaged some 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius).
There were more than 200,000 steel teeth affixed to the rotating chains of mammoth trenching machines used on this project—many of them broken off and replaced after deadly battles with extremely hard, abrasive rock lurking beneath Saharan sands. We didn’t use dynamite for reasons of safety and security.
Setting up camp
To house our team of 5,000 people, we established five camps along the route. We provided water, electricity, and waste disposal in addition to sleeping quarters, food service and medical facilities.