After installing more than 82.5 million metres of prefabricated vertical drains (PVDs) at an enormous industrial area near the city of Port Said, Keller is back for the second phase of a project that aims to bring significant business growth and investment to Egypt.

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East Port Said Industrial Zone is a proposed 64 million m2 industrial park, located on the east side of Suez Canal. Along with attractive benefits such as tax exemptions, low operational costs and access to skilled labour, the zone is in the ideal location for businesses who want to easily connect with hundreds of millions of customers across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2017, Keller was contracted by the Egyptian government to design and construct PVDs across 6.4 million m2 of the new area. With a large fleet of 22 rigs and a huge team of over 500 working in triple shifts, Keller Egypt successfully delivered the project in just one year. More impressive still, it was a relatively new technique for the crew.

With the first phase completed on time and to a high standard, the government has once again put its trust in Keller to design, supply, install and test a second phase of PVDs. The project started on site in mid-June 2019 and will run until early next year.

Making working platform safety a priority

“Although this site is smaller – 2 million m2 – it’s still very large and will require around 27.5 million metres of PVDs,” says Project Manager Ahmed Helmy. “The ground consists of soft to very soft clays up to 50m deep, so PVDs were chosen because they could achieve the required soil consolidation in the deep layers. They can also be installed relatively quickly, meeting the government’s schedule and budget.

“Phase one of the project was very successful, especially as it was a new style of PVD installation for the team, but we always want to do better so we made sure we captured our lessons learned to make improvements on phase two.”

One such improvement involves ensuring the rigs have greater stability and therefore safety. Since phase one, Keller has strengthened its global working platform standards – which the team are following. They’re also carrying out rigorous proof-rolling across the site. As a result, there have been zero rig incidents so far.

In addition, the team now has a much more in-depth understanding of the machines. Whereas that very first rig took several weeks to assemble, the crew can now do it in just a couple of days. Similarly, they’ve secured more spare parts and carried out more preventative maintenance to ensure fewer breakdowns and less downtime. Four rigs are being used, with two as back-up and an excavator for the proof rolling.

Higher production rates

Logistics have also been a challenge, as Ahmed explains: “The site’s in Sinai, which technically is part of Asia, so with material, equipment and people coming from Africa, we’ve had to plan ahead to avoid any expected delays. We’ve also provided accommodation for our team so they don’t have to cross the Suez Canal by ferry.”

As a result of these learnings, the team has a higher production rate than on phase one and is ahead of schedule having completed around half of the works. Although the project has a deadline of May, Ahmed and his colleagues are aiming to wrap up several weeks earlier. Once the project is finished, Keller will monitor the ground settlement to ensure optimum performance.

“So far the project is going really well, we’re achieving very good quality and have had zero incidents,” he says. “We’re looking forward to finishing safely ahead of time and adding more value to our name. This has been a very high-profile project and Keller has become one of the big players in PVDs across Egypt and the Middle East.”

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