New pipeline fuels airfield development plans

13 December 2019

The hard work has started below the surface to create a resilient fuel network to support airfield developments at Auckland Airport.

The first lengths of new pipeline that will run fuel throughout the airfield have been put into a 4m deep trench, with steps and shields to secure the sides. The pipeline currently delivers fuel to 22 different aircraft stands around the airfield and the upgrade is designed to cater for future airfield developments and anticipated growth.

André Lovatt, General Manager Airport Development and Delivery, says laying a new fuel network that will cater for current needs and future airport expansion is an intricate process.

“We’re setting out a pipeline that covers all planning options and strengthens our existing network by building in additional resilience,” says André.

“Throughout this complex project, we’re hopping ahead – area by area – to lay the lengths. All of which has to be done while maintaining fuel supply throughout the airport facility.”

On-site contractors need to closely follow plans for the location of electrical line and water pipes, running across the line of the deeper pipeline. These lines are propped up while the new pipeline is put in below.

Project manager, James Neilson, says airport sites are uniquely dense for underground services, with layers of pipe and cabling crossing over each other beneath the tarmac. “If you’re developing a site in a paddock, there might be one or two lines to be aware of. At an airport, it can be like ‘pick up sticks’.”

When the new pipeline is laid, the existing line will be removed.

Once in place, there will be 600m of new pipeline underground. The imported 12-metre-long sections of pipeline arrived in August and are joined on site. Half a metre wide, the pipeline is made of steel, with protective coating around the outside to prevent corrosion underground.

In one minute, the pipeline network pumps up to 14,300 litres of fuel, which would fill the petrol tanks of 240 average cars.

The pipeline can be accessed for maintenance and fuel supply from the surface at four locations.

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