The 1,768 kilometres Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the second longest in the world, delivers oil from Baku in Azerbaijan to Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Commissioned in 2006 the pipeline delivers one million barrels of crude per day and crosses into Georgia where it runs across an unspoiled valley. In cooperating with this project, the Georgian government insisted that there would be safeguards against pollution should the pipeline stop pumping. The solutions involved constructing sumps in the base of the valley so that if the pipeline had to be drained the sump would contain the pipe volume which could then be pumped out and disposed of in an environmentally sensitive manner.
The sumps were to be buried in the ground to disguise them with just a small hut at ground level for access. The distance from the ground to each sump varied from location to location, but was some 10 metres and so well outside the 6 metres scope of standard sump pumps. A further complication came from the extreme sub-zero weather conditions. This dictated that all maintenance had to be undertaken in the hut, but with only 3m of headroom the pumps had to be capable of being dismantled into sections which could be fed into place, assembled in-situ and then removed again for subsequent maintenance. In addition the pumps had to be durable and reliable, potentially remaining unused for long periods of time and then operating flawlessly until any emergency was over.
A modular approach
BP approached a number of companies but Amarinth was the only one to show any interest in this technically challenging project. Using a modular approach that it had recently pioneered for vertical sump pumps, Amarinth was able to deliver 80% of the pump from its “standard library” whilst concentrating efforts on a design that allowed the shaft and columns to be split every two metres so that the pumps could be removed in sections. With its innovative approach to vertical sump pump design, Amarinth was able to quickly and easily achieve the requirements well within the deadlines set by BP, the pipe line operator.
Capping off the project
The final order placed was for three API 610 VS4 vertical sump pumps with lengths of between 8.2m and 8.4m manufactured in stainless steel and low temperature carbon steels to withstand the extreme winter weather conditions in the region. The pumps were delivered and installed on schedule and are now ready to avert any environmental damage should there be a problem with the flow of crude through the pipeline.
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