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Dutch dredger praised for innovative project in Brazil

Riverbed hides Amazon interior pipeline

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

RIO DE JANEIRO - The Dutch dredging firm Van Oord continues to impress Brazilians with its unique Amazon project, a so-called ‘subsea rock installation’ on two natural gas pipelines for their country’s national oil and gas supplier Petrobras. While Van Oord has been active in Brazil for 25 years with offshore, dredging and marine activities, it is its first gas pipeline project that takes natural gas from the onshore Solimões basin to the northern inland city and Amazonas state capital of Manaus (population of 1.8 million).

The pipelines, laid in the Rio Negro riverbed, were stabilized and protected by a crushed rock cover, a first for Brazil. Dug up in a quarry, crushed to specifications, loaded in containers on huge trucks to be transported to river barges, the load were then spread on top of the unseen pipeline on the riverbed.

The Dutch Chamber of Commerce of São Paulo unanimously voted to present their ‘Dutcham’ Trade Award 2011 for the best business achievement in Brazil to the Dutch dredger, calling the joint project “challenging and unique”.


Van Oord project manager Bert Bouwmeester, who was presented the trophy, saw the award “not only as a big compliment for Petrobras and Van Oord, but also a tribute to all of the Brazilian companies involved” in the pipeline project.

The contract presented a huge challenge to the Dutch firm since the pipeline was to be build in the middle of the Amazon, an area where Van Oord had never worked before. The firm has ample experience at sea, but the Amazon interior was totally new. The second major challenge was the logistics of transporting 40,000 tons of rock from the Amazon interior to a river installation.

To capture this rare project on film, Petrobras and Van Oord joint forces to hire Dutch maritime photographer and filmmaker, Ernst Daniel Nijboer. Again challenges to make adjustments and improvise, especially when filming on a shaky vessel dumping rocks under a burning, hot sun. The result is an informative and impressive production, Nijboer said.