YPFB subsidiary GasTransBoliviano (GTB) is currently undertaking a 2.7 km horizontal directional drill under the Rio Grande as part of a project to secure gas deliveries through the Bolivia – Brazil Pipeline.
The crossing is being constructed as an alternative in case of failure on the existing 1,500 m Rio Grande crossing.
Intense rain during the wet seasons of the last three years caused erosion of the west bank of the river to expose the entry point of the current crossing.
GTB responded to this situation in 2007 and 2008 by installing various defensive systems and supports for the pipeline.
While these works were able to minimise the risk of material impact to the pipeline, an engineering study concluded that the best long-term solution was to construct a new crossing, running longer than the existing one under the Rio Grande, according to a GTB report.
This new crossing will be a 32 inch diameter pipeline installed below the river bed by horizontal directional drilling; the length of this new crossing will be approximately 2,700 m, believed to be one of the longest installations of this type worldwide.
GTB is currently widening the pilot hole to 46 inches in diameter and expects drilling work to be completed in early May. Once drilling is completed GTB will pull the 32 inch diameter pipeline through the hole.
The new crossing is expected to be operational by July 2011 and will prevent any interruptions in natural gas exports to Brazil.