Babcock’s plant expertise deployed on SA mega-project

Babcock’s commitment to delivering trusted engineering support services to industry saw their plant services division assisting Transnet in successfully completing one of the country’s most ambitious engineering and construction projects to date. Babcock supplied mobile cranes and other mechanical construction equipment to four of the main contractors working on Transnet’s New Multi-Purpose Product Pipeline (NMPP).

The NMPP is one of the largest and most complex multi-product pipelines in the world, covering an underground distance of 715 kilometres, designed to transport liquid petroleum fuel from Durban to Gauteng and neighbouring regions. Without the NMPP, South Africa’s inland areas including Gauteng, the country’s economic epi-centre, would have faced severe fuel restrictions as demand was fast outweighing supply. The new-24 inch main pipeline replaced the existing 12-inch Durban-Johannesburg Pipeline (DJP) which had been in operation since 1965 and was reaching the end of its economic lifespan.

Charles van der Westhuizen, senior sales representative for Babcock’s plant services division, says that the four main contractors that Babcock supplied were Group Five Oil & Gas, Goss & Balfe, Mei Construction & Services and Msweli Industrial Projects, all of which worked on the Heidelberg/Nigel section of the project where Terminal 2 was constructed.

The project commenced in 2008 and comprised the construction of 160 kilometres of 16-inch steel inland pipelines; a 550 kilometre 24-inch main trunk pipeline; three inland pumping stations; and two accumulator terminals in Durban and Johannesburg respectively, with the aim of transporting three types of fuels along the pipeline to the inland terminal 2 at Heidelberg, from where the fuels will be supplied to various parts of the inland. The three fuels being transported are gasoline/petrol (both unleaded 93 octane and unleaded 95 octane), diesel (both low-sulphur diesel and ultra-low-sulphur diesel) and jet fuel.

“Babcock’s involvement in the NMPP project commenced in July 2013 with the supply of specialised equipment and broad range of expertise,” says van der Westhuizen.

He adds that among the plant supplied by Babcock over a period of three years for the project included 14 mobile cranes, ranging from 8 tonne to 220 tonne, three tractors with 12 metre trailers, a 300 KVA generator, 35 generators in the 25 KVA to 50 KVA range, 10 single diesel welding machines, and approximately 110 inverters.

Babcock is a leading supplier of engineering support services and plant to the energy, process, mining and construction industries in Africa. The plant services division has a combined inventory of more than 40 000 items and specialises in the provision of mobile crane services, rigging equipment and expertise, abnormal transport, and welding and mechanical construction plant to meet the needs of any large or small contractor. The equipment and machinery for the NMPP project was supplied and serviced by Babcock’s Sasolburg branch.

The NMPP represents cutting-edge innovation in concept, design and implementation and is expected to deliver significant benefits, particularly environmental and socio-economic, by enabling economic growth, reducing road congestion and road maintenance costs and lowering carbon emissions associated with road transport. The pipeline is a legacy project designed to serve South Africa for decades to come and is expected to be a strategically important world-class asset for the long term.

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