The new NK Gasduct in Argentina: an unprecedented feat in terms of construction time and economic value

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The President Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline (GPNK), the most critical energy infrastructure project of the last 40 years, was carried out in record time – six months for the production of tubes, ten months for civil works – thanks to the industrial muscle of the companies of the Techint Group.

The GPNK, inaugurated last July, constitutes Argentina’s most relevant energy infrastructure work in the previous four decades. Furthermore, it is possible to enhance the development of Vaca Muerta oil and gas fields, transporting the gas that the areas of that formation produce to the main consumption centres.

The project planned, promoted and supervised by Energía Argentina saved 421 million dollars in energy imports, a figure that could reach between 2,500 and 4,000 million dollars in the future, according to official data. The gas pipeline today transports 11 million m3/day. With the incorporation of the Salliqueló and Trayén compression plants, it can cheer 21 million m3/day.

Without the synergy between the companies of the Techint Group, it would have been impossible to execute this work within the required deadlines: Tenaris’s role was the provision of welded tubes, while Techint Engineering and Construction at UT with SACDE was in charge of the construction of the project. As a result, Tecpetrol increased its gas production at Fortín de Piedra .

With this premise as their motto, the three companies participated in Argentina Oil & Gas, the region’s most critical energy sector fair. Its main references were part of the Meeting with the CEOs there, where they referred to the need to promote the development of infrastructure to not only produce more and substitute imports but also dream of becoming an energy supplier for a world still mired in a profound reconfiguration within the framework of the Ukraine-Russia war.

“Argentina has an extraordinary opportunity to be a key player on the world energy map. With all the infrastructure works launched, we can not only substitute imports: we can also think about an industrial model adding value to gas exports,” said the president of Tenaris Cono Sur, Javier Martínez Álvarez . And he emphasized: “the energy agenda requires a long-term view and collaboration of all sectors. “Argentina must organize its macro, but we cannot waste time in the transition or stop the development of Vaca Muerta.”

Gustavo Gallino, General Director of the Southern Area of ​​Techint Engineering and Construction, highlighted: “What was done with the GPNK shows that in Argentina, works can be done with deadlines that are an example for the world by working as a team and successfully articulating between companies, our client Energía Argentina, national state, provinces, unions, SMEs and the thousands of people who made this project possible.”

“Argentina has talent, academic quality and companies that believe and consider that the main value is people. We have great opportunities that we should not waste and with which we can enhance the country’s growth,” added Gallino.

Breaking productivity records

At its Valentín Alsina plant, Tenaris recorded record activity levels for six months to produce the tubes that would be part of the GPNK. In those “record moments” 2.5 kilometres of pipeline were made daily and 60 kilometres per month: figures that had never been achieved before.

More than 8 million dollars were invested in a job that involved nearly 150,000 hours of work to redesign and enhance the production line. More than 450 new employees were hired to produce and dispatch tubes, and 10% of this new workforce were women. The entrants were provided with more than 130,500 total hours of training, an average of 342 hours per operator.

At the peak of the work, more than 4,000 employees were hired at the UT Techint-SACDE, and more than 1,500 pieces of equipment with cutting-edge technologies were used, including automatic welding, used for the first time in the country, double-joint plants and horizontal directional drilling (HDD). The UT teams worked simultaneously from both ends until they were in the centre of the trace.

Fortín de Piedra, key to energy self-sufficiency

With the GPNK, Argentina increased its gas transportation capacity, and Tecpetrol increased its production. The company already produced 32% of Vaca Muerta’s unconventional gas this winter by achieving a new production record of 24 million m3/day in Fortín de Piedra, the country’s leading field in producing unconventional gas. This is a fundamental figure for energy self-sufficiency, a volume that saves foreign currency and simultaneously increases export capacity. At the national level, Tecpetrol is producing 18% of the gas consumed by Argentina, including shale, tight and conventional.

“We will sustain the investment of 500 million dollars annually to maintain gas production. We are now going to go to the development of unconventional oil. If the right conditions are met, we will develop a Liquefied Natural Gas project: I imagine a Tecpetrol with more oil and gas production and excellent results within ten years”, predicted within the framework of the Oil and Gas the CEO of the firm, Ricardo Markous. “Vaca Muerta needs road infrastructure but a key issue is training,” he added. We must attract young Argentines to come to the energy industry, and for that, we need to work collaboratively, in coordination with all the producing companies.”

The GPNK functions simultaneously as the “spearhead” for other large energy infrastructure projects, for example, the reversal of the Northern Gasduct. Following Bolivia’s gas decline and its decision not to guarantee “firm” gas deliveries, this reversal will allow Vaca Muerta gas to be brought to the industries of the provinces of Córdoba, Tucumán, La Rioja, Catamarca, Santiago del Estero, Salta and Jujuy. Thus, once the work is completed, there will be an annual saving of approximately 1.9 billion dollars for the country, a lower cost of electricity generation and natural gas for northern industries, and exports to the north of Chile, the centre of Brazil and Bolivia.

Source: Translated: La Nacion

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