The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), announced in 2003 by Swiss energy firm EGL (now Axpo) is ambitiously undertaking a project to supply gas from the Caspian region to markets in southern Europe. TAP is the European leg of the Southern Gas Corridor, a complex value chain of energy projects that links natural gas supplies from Azerbaijan to Europe. Europe needs new sources of gas to meet its long-term energy demand, replace its own declining energy production, fuel economic growth and diversify its energy supply. Natural gas is expected to play an increasingly important role in the European energy mix for decades to come. As the cleanest fossil fuel, it has clear environmental advantages over other energy sources such as coal and oil. It provides an important and flexible energy option in conjunction with renewable energy. The 870-km (540-mile) pipeline will connect to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline on the Turkish-Greek border and will run through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea before coming ashore in southern Italy. The massive project is expected to be completed by 2020 and will have a significant impact on region’s economy.
Hill International was awarded a contract by Technipetrol Hellas, an affiliate of global engineering, procurement and construction giant Technip, to provide consultancy services for the PM Services for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) Project. “Specifically, our role as per the contract is provision of consultancy services in Greece to Technipetrol Hellas for the pipeline project,” said Yannis Kirkinezis, Hill’s director of business development for the project management group in the Athens office. “As of today, we have 20 engineers seconded in positions that include project manager, senior documents controller, project control manager, quality lead, mechanical/piping inspector, welding engineer, coating inspector, lead planner, crossing supervisor, special sections supervisor, hydro-testing expert, senior inspector stations, fiber optic cable inspector and cathode protection inspector, to name a few. Technipetrol Hellas is one of the major companies that is associated with the TAP project.
The pipeline will have an initial capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per day, or the equivalent of 7 million homes in Europe, according to information posted on the TAP website. “In the future, the addition of two compressor stations could double throughput to 20 billion cubic meters per day. TAP’ design offers various connection options to a number of existing and proposed pipelines along its route.” TAP’s length in Greece is about 550 kms (341 miles), crossing 1,693 roads, 722 rivers and 20 minor and major railways, it said, adding in Albania it will be 215 kms (133 miles) and 37 kms (23 miles) of onshore and offshore respectively, followed by some 45 kms (28 miles) of an onshore section in Italy. “For most of its route, the pipeline will be invisible once built and will be buried at least 1 meter under the ground,” the website posting said. A total of 54,387 pipes will be built for the project, with total weight of steel pipes being 516,184 tons or the ‘equivalent steel’ needed to build 71 Eiffel Towers. The overall trench excavation for the project will be 4.54 5 million cubic meters of the equivalent of a pyramid in Egypt.
Hill will build on TAP experience, core team taking shape
For Hill International, the award of the contract for TAP will not be a one-off initiative, rather, it “will give us the ground and the references to build our capabilities in the oil and gas sector to pursue other opportunities in the broader area,” Kirkinezis, noting he has already started work in that direction “having some visible opportunities/assignments in Greece for a gas network expansion, in Egypt to produce specifications for a major client to onshore and offshore oil and gas facilities.” Hill is also pursuing opportunities in Kuwait, in Kazakshtan and in Turkey with Company, besides others, he said. “The TAP team of 20-25 engineers could be our core team for the oil and gas sector,” he said. Hill International is not really a new comer to the global hydrocarbons industry, as its claims unit has several contracts that cover refineries, EPC contracts and the pipeline sectors. The company has also seconded staff to clients in the oil and gas sector. However, the forward looking step now for the company will be the award of a major PM/CM contract for either the upstream, midstream or downstream sectors. Given the efforts mounted on the drawing board by Kirkinezis and his team, success may not be too far away for Hill International.
By Ashok Dutta