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Progress and upcoming challenges at a key project for Chile

Published 29.1.2024

The work underway to build the Desalinated Water Supply system for the Northern District (SADDN) has progressed in recent weeks. Find out more about this project here.


Major progress has been achieved in the seawater desalination project being built by Techint Engineering & Construction, thanks to the considerable technical knowhow, machinery and professional expertise the company is deploying to meet the delivery deadline. The new pipeline system ferrying desalinated water will run across the communes of Tocopilla, María Elena and Calama, in Chile.


Joint work

Martín Jiménez Álvarez, Sr. Project Manager for the Pumping System, praised the effort and dedication of the team that has enabled the project to get to this stage. “We are fully committed to the challenge we have taken on. You can really see that we have a project in the full throes of execution and that the team is complying with the schedule and budget,” he said. 

“This is a critical project for the sustainability of our customer Codelco’s mining operations, as well as for all their neighbors in the surrounding communities. We’re talking about a 160-kilometer pipeline project that has achieved 27% progress at EPC level,” said Roberto Díaz, Sr. Construction Manager. 


With responsibility and sustainability

Martin Marcet, Construction Manager for the pipeline, explained how the different phases are developing: “Regarding clearing the Right-Of Way, we currently have three work fronts open. Regarding the road and access maintenance phase, we are working on the different work fronts, which is essential for accessibility, guaranteeing safe conditions and reducing staff travel times.” Martín explained that, for the second stage in the construction of the pipeline, the first trencher has already been received and is already operational. The next phase coming up is taking delivery of the pipes themselves at the yard which is currently nearing completion.

Martín added that, “We’ve been working at a steady pace, managing each aspect with efficiency, considering the complexity involved in working for a customer like Codelco and the geography of northern Chile. So far, we have complied with the schedule and are even ahead of the timeframe with some phases. At the outset, we invested a significant amount of time in working on the pipeline course itself so that it would be easier to carry out tasks in this area during the assembly phases.”

Regarding the works on the coast, Fernando Catani, Sr. Construction Manager for the Marine Works, highlighted the challenges overcome and the safety standards they have had to implement, mainly due to the characteristics and special features of the terrain, as well as the personnel-machinery interaction. 

“We’ve been working together with our subcontractor Belfi, focusing on ensuring the optimal conditioning of the terrain surface at the Cota 6 Platform, which is very irregular, due to its topography, featuring landmarks such as rocky outcrops. This is a task that involves earthworks and clearing, and so far, it’s about 50% complete. We’ve been making major efforts every day to ensure that all the work is as safe and productive as possible,” he explained.

He added that, “this is a megaproject with significant environmental aspects. Issues such as monitoring, management control and the requirements enshrined in the project’s Environmental Qualification Resolution (RCA) all have a great impact on the coordination and planning of the work.”

Regarding progress at the desalination plant building itself, Rafael Marchetti, Sr. Construction Manager at the Desalination Plant, commented that, “during December we achieved major progress which took us closer to the completion of the earthworks phase.” Similarly, January saw the launch of the phase to transport the first foundations from Iquique. “In the second production stage scheduled to start in the coming months, we’ll be carrying out the structural filling around the foundations and, in parallel, all the subterranean elements," concluded Marchetti. 


Challenges bridging the Atlantic 

Despite the complex international context surrounding the seven shipments transporting nearly 9,700 pipes from India to Chile, the third shipment has recently arrived at Port Angamos and has already begun unloading. The fourth shipment is currently crossing the Atlantic Ocean, approaching the Strait of Magellan, and the fifth shipment is due to depart from the port of Mundra in India in early February and to arrive in Chile in the second half of March.  

“We’re following every detail very closely. There’s always somebody working to make this project a success, whatever time of the day it is, as we have teams in India, Chile and Argentina. Our work focus has mainly been on quality aspects and complying with the highest safety standards, which is critically important for the pipeline’s useful life,” concludes Martin Savino, Project Expediting Manager for the Pipes.

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