A path traveled as a team
Learn how the President Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline (GPNK) was built, a visionary project that will change the energy matrix not only of Argentina, but also throughout the region.
This is the account of a project completed in record time, designed to achieve so much more than unite the four argentinian provinces through which it runs. The GPNK is a monument to a joint effort, one which has achieved extraordinary milestones and overcome the complex challenges of tight deadlines.
As much a feat of engineering, construction and technology as of human endeavor, the pipeline project deployed over four thousand employees onsite at the peak of work, a total of ten thousand people directly who were involved while another forty thousand took part indirectly. All were men and women who gave their best efforts to build a project destined to change the energy matrix of an entire country—and of the region.
When the last of the 18,000 welding operations was completed, the crew in charge joined in the celebrations and exultation of the whole team—and they had plenty to celebrate! The Techint-SACDE joint venture had just symbolically completed the project, joining together the last section of the largest energy infrastructure work of the last four decades, the President Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline. The 36-inch diameter pipeline runs across a distance of 573 kilometers, taking gas from the compressor plant in Tratayén, which lies in the middle of the Neuquén plateau, to Salliqueló, in the province of Buenos Aires, through the provinces of Río Negro and La Pampa.
Divided into four stretches, the GPNK is a truly emblematic work, one that will be talked about for decades to come, due to the number of innovative procedures and technology involved, the records broken and the painstaking attention to detail. It was built in the record time of eight months, only possible thanks to the ability to perform several different tasks simultaneously, underpinned by the commitment of a multidisciplinary team supporting the automatic welding squads employing welders from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Turkey.
The President Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline substantially increases gas transportation capacity from the Fortín de Piedra field in Vaca Muerta, pursuing the twin objectives of substituting imports with domestically-produced gas, and increasing supply to residential and industrial users, such as power plants. Argentina will thus be able to increase gas availability at competitive prices for industry, businesses and households, saving over USD 4.2 billion a year by substituting fuel imports.
The GPNK is a crucial chapter in the energy history of the country. Along its 573-km route, it traverses 85 special crossings, from highways and roads to power lines, railroad tracks and rivers, including the Rio Colorado. As for the numbers involved, 47,700 12-m Ɵ36” steel pipes were welded together, transported in 12,000 truck trips. Construction work was pursued simultaneously on three different work fronts, taking 178 working days, thanks to the implementation of two double-joint welding plants and the incorporation, for the first time in Argentina, of automatic welding equipment, which considerably reduced construction times. Thanks to these innovative and time-saving procedures, construction on the line was able to advance between two and four kilometers per day, with some performance peaks where progress of almost eight kilometers was achieved.
Pride. Effort. A sense of belonging
The last workshops and trucks have been demobilized, and the personnel still onsite are now awaiting orders for deployment to other projects. However, for the pipeline and for the country, a new chapter is just beginning.
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