Argentina’s first automatic welding unit at the President Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline
The project being undertaken by the Techint-SACDE joint venture is speeding ahead with over 1,800 workers, welding equipment and the company’s double-joint plants, all while complying with high-quality standards.
The Techint E&C-SACDE joint venture formed to build three stretches of the President Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline (GPNK), which required over 1,500 key pieces of equipment, with the ensuing need to recruit and train skilled operators. One of the key innovations helping to ensure the project advances at a good pace is the use of technologies such as automatic welding, used for the first time in Argentina. Techint E&C had implemented this technology earlier, achieving excellent results in projects in Saudi Arabia, Chile and Mexico.
"We had a very challenging start at the logistical level, but currently there are over 1,800 people working on the project. We are moving ahead at full speed, laying pipes at a rate of 1,500 to 2,500 meters per day, for Stretches 1 and 2 (from both ends of the course running from Neuquén to La Pampa),” said Gustavo Gallino, Director General of the Southern Area.
Earlier this year, the automatic welding machines were put into operation both in the town of Doblas, in the province of La Pampa (Km. 440 of the course) and in Tratayén, in the province of Neuquén (Km. 0). The automatic welder was brought from the United States, and it substantially reduces work times by increasing the number of tubes that can be welded per day, minimizing errors and endowing the output rate with predictability.
The other innovation is the double joint plants, which are operating on both lines and are designed to permit the industrial welding of two 36-inch-diameter 12-meter pipes into a single piece measuring 24 meters long. The pipes are first transported by truck to the pipeline right-of-way where they are welded together using the automated system.
Measuring a total of 573 kilometers, the GPNK is a lifeline that will in the near future increase gas availability at competitive prices and replace the country’s fuel imports.