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Projects Archive: Beton Bauen complete contract in St Helena, South Atlantic

Beton Bauen take a retrospective look at a 2017 Bulk Fuel Installation project, on the island of St. Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Beton Bauen Fuel Tank Facilities Project, St Helena

Project Details Project Title: St Helena Fuel Storage Facility

Sector: Utilities / Transport

Overall Project Value: £285.5 Million

Project Duration: 2017

Our Client:  Basil Read

On Behalf of: St Helena Government / Department of International Development

Other Partners:  Atkins Management Consultants


Project Background


A relatively small subtropical island in the middle of the South Atlantic, Saint Helena finds itself isolated from much of the world; the closest mainland, Africa's west coast, is some 1,200 miles from this tiny British Overseas territory - a speck on the map comprising Ascension Island to its north and Tristan Da Cunha to the south. Around ten miles of the island hosts a population of just over 4,500 residents.


First discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, the islands volatile history saw it play a part in the transatlantic slave trade, become a stopping point for pirates, and even hosted a prisoner of war camp (during the Boer War). Notoriously, St Helena became the resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte, exiled in 1815, following The Battle of Waterloo.


In more modern times, St Helena has only been accessible by Royal Mail ship, in a journey that took four to five days from Cape Town, South Africa. In 1999, St Helena Government suggested they needed an airport and in 2005, UK Government and the Department for International Development agreed to pay for it, partly in the hope that establishing tourism would enable the island to stand on its own two feet. A new airport was built with an aim to boost tourism to the island and to make the island less dependent on aid.



Project Description

Beton Bauen Project Contribution A feasibility study for the St Helena airport project was completed by consultancy firm Atkins (now AtkinsRéalis, part of SNC-Lavalin) and in 2011 South African construction firm Basil Read was awarded the contract to design, build, and operate the airport on St Helena. The project included the construction of a 1 850m concrete runway, a 3,500m2 airport terminal and other associated infrastructure, such as access roads, bulk fuel installations (BFI), water supplies and aerodrome ground lighting. The permanent BFI in Upper Rupert's comprises 4 diesel tanks, 2 aviation fuel tanks and 2 petrol tanks - each with 750,000 litre capacity. Beton Bauen would be contracted to complete specialist work/s on the BFI element of the project, and more specifically, the safe storage of aviation fuel within the large tanks.


Solution Methods & Methodology

First and foremost, concrete repair specialists were responsible for Ground Stabilisation for the fuel tanks, which involved extensive grout pumping into the fixed bases. Grouting is an essential ground improvement technique that can considerably enhance soil strength and stability. It involves the injection of cementitious or chemical grout into the soil to fill voids, compact the ground, and mitigate soil settlement. The second phase of the project would involve lining the tanks, designed to a 1 /30 drop. Special attention was given to planning the ‘Form Work’ required, to effectively create a shallow funnel, where the aviation fuel would leave the tank by pipe. Using an epoxy mortar, the form work would be completed in alternating segments, due in large the huge diameter of the tank. Following the installation of fibreglass lining, the final phase involved coating the tank base and walls with a specialist epoxy resin, resistant to various elements within aviation fuel.


Issues Encountered

Logistically, St Helena’s geographical location presents obvious problems. Beton Bauen materials/equipment were shipped via South Africa and then aboard the RMS St Helena. This ship would arrive from Cape Town once every three weeks, a journey that would take 4-5 days, but might be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions! As such, planning had to be precise to avoid potential delays, should something be forgotten, or quantities underestimated.



Beton Bauen project St Helena fuel tank

Image Key 1. Bulk Fuel Installation, Imagery/Photo credit: https://johntyrrell.blogspot.com/2023/01/the-bulk-fuel-installation-saint.html 2-6. Images of Bulk Fuel Installation, ©Beton Bauen (Arthur Dacey) 7. St Helena Airport, Imagery/Photo credit: Paul Tyson, Wikimedia Commons


Project Summary


The geographical position, limited and infrequent access, diverse nature of the sites, and the scale of construction work meant that this was a challenging project overall. In terms of the Beton Bauen work/s, our project commitments were completed within the set time-frame, and to the quality standard expected. From a technical aspect, the project was extremely successful, without issue, due to experienced and careful planning.


Arthur Dacey, Contracts Manager of Beton Bauen said:

"“Normally, should something be needed at the last minute or plant equipment required to complete a task, it would be available from local or UK suppliers overnight. The remoteness of St Helena and infrequency of transportation made the project that bit more challenging. Logistically a great deal of the procurement of materials and equipment had to be carried out over a month in advance."


Download a printable PDF version of this Mini Project Case Study below.


BETON BAUEN_Case Study_St Helena Airport, Fuel Tanks_v1a (2nd May 2024)
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.32MB


Useful Links

St Helena Government - https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/

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