Four drill jobs for the European fuel pipeline network

A pipeline system for the supply of aviation fuel to various national and international airports runs right through the Netherlands. Some of these pipelines have reached the end of their life cycle and need to be replaced. In the summer of 2021, Brownline was commissioned by contractor Visser & Smit Hanab to survey four drill jobs for this replacement operation in the Dutch region of Vlijmen and 's Hertogenbosch.

Many pipelines can be found in the Dutch soil, for example for drinking water and wastewater, electricity and natural gas. In addition to these national pipelines, there is also another pipeline network, which is part of the Central European Pipeline System. The CEPS is a cross-border network of pipelines in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and France, which supplies military and civilian customers such as airports in these countries with aviation fuel. The system was set up in the 1950s in collaboration with NATO. The Dutch part of the system consists of 550 kilometers of pipelines, connected to one central depot and two auxiliary depots. Each year 4.5 billion liters of fuel is pumped through this network. The Department of Defense Pipeline Organization (DPO) performs maintenance. They carry out strict security checks on a daily basis and this has shown that part of the network needs to be replaced.

This project involved four bores in total, of 823, 332, 994 and 1374 meters in length. The total trajectory of the four bores ran from just south of the river Maas to the A59 highway between Vlijmen and ’s Hertogenbosch. Because of the minimum depth of the trajectory being only 1.20 meters in some places, it was of great importance to monitor the annular pressure during these drillings. Drilling took place under agricultural land, buildings and various secondary roads, but also under Lake Engelen. The longest of the four bores also crossed highway A59. In short, plenty of factors that could strongly influence the results of these drill jobs. In addition, after completion, between 60,000 and 500,000 liters of aviation fuel per hour will be pumped through this pipe with a diameter of only 27 cm, at a pressure of 80 bar. Safety and precision are therefore of the utmost importance to prevent later problems such as leaks and to protect the environment above.

Thanks to the Drillguide Gyro Steering Tool and the good cooperation with the VSH drilling team, the four bores were completed successfully, with extreme precision and within the stipulated time frame. The DPO can safely replace the existing pipelines and continue to ensure smooth delivery to both civilian and military airports.

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