Ace Pipeline Group – a 34 year old startup!

At Ace Pipeline Contracts Pvt. Ltd., we think of ourselves as a 34 year old start up, with a constant strive to innovate, adopt better and newer technology, learn and grow.

In this spirit of a start-up, our group company Ace Energy Infrastructure ventured into the business of tunnel construction by Microtunnel Boring machines for Oil & Gas projects in Sept-2022.

After painstaking work including geotech surveys, detailed engineering, procurement of RCC pipes, investments in tunnelling equipment and myriad components over the last 6 months, on 13-April-2023 on the auspicious occasion of Baisakhi or Bihu festival, we were all excited to witness the completion of construction of a 600 meter long RCC tunnel of diameter 1.6 meters at our project site in Bongaigaon in the state of Assam in the North East o India.

An aerial view of shaft or well constructed to receive the MTBM in the middle of the river bed. Water has been temporarily divereted to facilitate the construction worksl

The Tunnel Boring Machine being tested at site before being launched into the Launch Shaft

The MTBM being thrust / pushed across the river by hydraulic jacks while it cuts away through a mix of boulders and sand.
RCC pipes being sequentially pushed across the river bed.
The cutting head of the TBM breaking out through the concrete receiving shaft.

This accomplishment is part of the Baurauni Guwahati Pipeline project for GAIL (India) Limited, involving the laying of a 24” dia natural gas pipeline to connect the North Eastern states with the national gas grid (Pradhanmantri Urja Ganga).

Route map for the Pradham Mantri Urja Ganga (Prime Minister’s River of Energy) project connecting the North East to the national gas drid (image courtesy GAIL (India) Ltd).

The challenge thrown at us by GAIL (India) Limited in August 2022 was to install a RCC Tunnel of length 1200-meter across River Kanamakra in strata full of boulders, cobble and micaceous sand to accommodate a 24” dia natural gas pipeline. Despite the contract requiring a RCC tunnel of 1.2 m diameter, based on the site conditions, we decided that on a RCC tunnel of larger size, i.e. 1.6 meters would serve our project requirements better despite the substantially higher cost. After completion of this first microtunneling drive of 600 meters, another drive of 600 meters remains to be executed after the first to complete tunnelling across the full width of the river.

For this effort, we purchased a Herrenknecht AVN1600 MTBMRCC Jacking Pipes of ID 1600 mm were custom designed with compressive strength of 50 MPa to withstand jacking forces in excess of 10,000 Kilo Newtons (approx. 1000 Metric Tons). We used separation plant designed and manufactured by Elgin Separation Solutions. As a contingency to reduce thrust loads during tunneling, we used Intermediate Jacking stations designed with hydraulic jacks and a bentonite lubrication system to reduce friction while driving the RCC pipes. A precise laser guidance system supplied by VMT GmbH was used to ensure accuracy in tunnelling.

Our team received tremendous support from Herrenknecht AG teams in Germany and India. Our in-house team of experts and operators worked tirelessly round the clock for the past several months supported by various vendors.

While there was never an intent to break any records, we are informed that single drive length of 600 meters for pipe diameter 1600 mm (or smaller)  is the largest lengths executed in India.

This milestone demonstrates our commitment to delivering innovative solutions that help us overcome complex engineering challenges while delivering high-quality infrastructure.

There remains considerable work to be done in this project and look forward to completing the remaining works including the second drive with the same eagerness and zeal.  However, we hope this milestone is only a small first step in this journey to be learn and grow as an organization.

At Ace Pipeline Group, we remain dedicated to building the globes’ energy life lines, and we strive for excellence in all our endeavours.

An elated team receiving the MTBM in the receiving shaft after completion of the 600 meter long drive.

We wish to express our gratitude to GAIL (India) Limited (Project Owner) and MECON Limited (Project Management Consultant for the project), and each of our team members for their dedication and hard work in making this remarkable milestone possible.

Source: LinkedIn

Written by : Tarun Singh
Written by : Tarun Singh

Director, Business Development at Ace Pipeline Contract Pvt. Ltd.