Industry picks up the pace in Europe

Trenchless technology is gaining popularity across the European infrastructure industry, with projects specifying no-dig methodologies and industry associations spreading awareness.

Environmental impacts

The Baltic Pipe Project is the latest on and offshore gas transmission pipeline in development to create a new gas supply corridor in the European market. The project – being developed by Danish gas and electricity operator Energinet and Polish gas operator GAZ-SYSTEM – will bring approximately 10 billion m3/a of gas supply from Norway to Denmark and Poland, as well as 3 billion m3/a of gas from Poland to Denmark.

The Baltic Pipe Project comprises five key components: the North Sea offshore pipeline, Denmark’s onshore transmission system, a Danish compressor station, the Baltic Sea offshore pipeline and Poland’s onshore transmission system.

An important aspect being taken into account for the construction work is the minimisation of environmental damage. Four methods of construction are under consideration for environmental and engineering analysis: open excavation and trenchless horizontal directional drilling (HDD), microtunnelling and direct jacking.

On 12 July 2019, the Danish Environment Protection Agency issued GAZ-SYSTEM with the environmental decision for the Baltic Pipe landfall in Denmark. The decision focuses on the section where the offshore pipeline enters the land, as well as the construction of the tunnel up to the shoreline.

Microtunnelling has been specified as the installation method due to its ability to minimise environmental impact on the country’s coast and cliffs. It has also been selected as the preferred method for the landfalls in Poland as, in addition to protecting the coastal region, microtunnelling meets the technical capabilities required, such as the pipeline diameter and the geotechnical parameters of the soil.

Developing the HDD industry

The Drilling Contractors Association Europe (DCA-Europe) was founded in 1994 by leading HDD contractors to support the development of a method widely touted as the ideal alternative to cross underground obstacles when installing pipeline systems, both in technical and economic terms.

DCA-Europe’s main objectives are to maintain, promote and to further develop the technical standards of HDD in Europe, as well as improving the framework for the application the method by establishing common standards for quality assurance and unified licensing procedures, as well as promoting education and training and research and development.

Once of the core focuses of the group over the past year has been the development of three working groups, which are actively looking at the disposal or recycle of drilling fluids; coating quality; and the revision of its published technical HDD guidelines. The groups comprise representatives of member companies, with external experts are called in for consultations when specialist knowledge is required.

DCA-Europe will continue to promote knowledge sharing when its 24th Annual Congress takes place in Krakow, Poland on 16–18 October. The event is focusing on the theme ‘HDD smart and green’ and will include presentations on technology and innovation, developments in the Polish HDD market.

Case studies and two workshops will also take place: one dedicated to electrically operated drilling rigs and the other focusing on new trenchless techniques linked to HDD technology and their areas of application.

Initiatives harnesses trenchless’ green credentials

The GEOFIT Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, the EU’s biggest research and innovation program, with nearly €80 billion (US$89.2 billion) of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020). Horizon 2020 aims to deliver breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

GEOFIT is an integrated industrially driven action to answer the EU climate and energy package. It was adopted in 2008 in line with the EU ‘20-20-20’ targets: 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency, 20 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions and 20 per cent renewables by 2020.

The project will retrofit geothermal based solutions to real projects, targeting a 60 per cent reduction in energy consumption. GEOFIT has five pilot sites located in Spain, Italy, France and two in Ireland, representing geothermal upgrades in urban areas, rock drilling projects and in historical buildings with seismic risk.

Large industrial pipes stacked for use. Image courtesy of Baltic Pipe.

In the infrastructure market, GEOFIT is focused on the technical development of its Efficient Geothermal Systems and related components. This initiative will develop key heating and cooling technologies for energy efficient building retrofitting practices and leveraging its market uptake.

Key breakthrough technology assets brought by GEOFIT include improved low-invasive vertical drilling, HDD and trenchless technologies. This will allow novel and non-standard ground heat exchanger designs and geometries including vertical closed loops for limited spaces and novel hybrid heat pump and electrically driven compression heat pump systems, all specifically designed for their use in retrofitting works.

This article was featured in Fall Edition of Trenchless International. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet, or mobile device, click here.

If you have news you would like featured in Trenchless International contact Managing Editor Chloe Jenkins at

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