A new milestone for the GPNK: the Ordoqui loop start-up
The Ordoqui loop is one of the complementary works making up this emblematic gas pipeline, enabling the transport of an additional 5 MMm3 of gas per day to the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA).
Work on the President Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline (GPNK in Spanish) has notched up yet another milestone: the start-up of the Ordoqui pipeline, in the province of Buenos Aires, on July 24. The loop is an expansion of the Neuba II gas pipeline which enables an extra 5 million cubic meters of gas per day (5 MMm3/day) to be transported to the AMBA region, which is the Metropolitan Area surrounding the City of Buenos Aires.
This new project is part of Line 4.2 of the GPNK, being built and laid by Techint Engineering & Construction together with SACDE. The Mercedes-Cardales pipeline is also included in this stretch.
Running parallel to the Neuba II pipeline, built in 1988, the Ordoqui loop is 29 kilometers long and connects the Saturno compressor station near Salliqueló with the Ordoqui plant. The project was divided into two stages, with the first envisaging a 17 km stretch, which was enabled on July 24, and the second a stretch of 12 km.
“This is a crucially important work as it’s the connecting arm linking Vaca Muerta to Buenos Aires. We had a considerable amount of flexibility as regards meeting the needs of this customer, enabling us at the same time to deliver this loop—which is so important for gas transportation—on time as required,” states Diego Tosi, Project Manager.
“The section we’re working on runs through a flood-prone zone. This meant that for many years, the pipeline was out of service, acting as a bottleneck that prevented any new gas from reaching the AMBA area,” adds Tosi.
When the works began in January, one of the main challenges was how to set up the work team from scratch in a context defined by tight deadlines. As the Project Manager explains it, “In order to get this done, we had to bring in sideboom operators, pipe operators and welders from other countries, which was quite challenging as many were already working on Lines 1 and 2. From October to December 2022, we ran a Welding School at our Machinery Yard (TEPAM) in Gral. Pacheco, and we also retrained and qualified welders from our plant and the refinery as pipeline welders, as this is quite a different specialty.”
Tosi points out that close collaboration with TGS, the operator, and the main customer Enarsa was crucial to achieving all the objectives within the timeframe. A detailed schedule was carefully drawn up to ensure the project was operational by the date required, conditioned by the limited window of time available when the operation could be performed without affecting gas availability in the AMBA region.
“We decided to do this on a Sunday, taking advantage of the fact that it had been quite warm in the area the day before. This meant we could work safely, and at the same time, TGS was able to lower the pressure levels required to drive gas through the pipelines to Buenos Aires that day. Finally, we completed the process to stabilize the gas at 01.15 in the morning on Monday,” explains Tosi.
The gas pipeline was built, laid and enabled in compliance with all the requisite safety procedures set by both Enarsa and TGS, and no accidents were recorded. The focus is now on finishing the second 12-km stage of the project, and progress to-date is on schedule.
- 5 MMm3/day of gas transported by the loop to the AMBA.
- 17 km of Ɵ36” pipelines in the first stage.
- 450 employees at peak of work.