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Preparations are underway for a new bridge in Venezuela

First publishedin World Highways
June 2013
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The Combifloat
The Combifloat has 27m long legs and will work on the project up to 10km offshore

A large bridge project is being planned in Venezuela, with ground investigation leading the way

In Venezuela, preparation work is now being carried out for a major new bridge project. The European geotechnical specialist Lankelma is supplying its Combifloat C5 jack-up platform, JUP Sandpiper, to begin work on the ground investigation for the new Puente Nigale (in English: Nigale Bridge) over Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.

The Nigale Bridge will be the second crossing over Venezuela’s largest lake. The link, between Santa Cruz de Mara and Punta de Palmas, is being built by Brazilian contractor Odebrecht and was designed by consultant COWI. Lankelma is working for Venezuelan engineering consultant and contractor Geohidra to investigate locations for the foundations of the 10.8km road and rail bridge, which forms part of the new crossing at the Lake’s northern end.

The bridge is needed as Venezuela's vehicle population is increasing and it is believed that the existing infrastructure will be insufficient to meet with the demands of future traffic volumes. As an oil producer, Venezuela has the resources at present to fund major capital projects such as this new bridge and a number of other infrastructure projects are also either planned or are already underway in the country.

Geohidra and Lankelma will use three nearshore jack-up platforms to drill boreholes to a maximum depth of 70m into the mudstones beneath the lake during the nine-month contract. The Combifloat 18m by 12m platform, which has 27m long legs, will work up to 10km offshore on the project. This near-shore work platform is capable of operating in water depths of up to 18m.
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Geotechnical investigation for bridge construction
Geotechnical investigations will help provide valuable data for the new bridge construction
Lankelma is a specialist geotechnical investigation contractor with staff and equipment resource dedicated to cone penetration testing (CPT). The firm has also purchased a wireline-deployable CPT rig from AP van den Berg in the Netherlands to combine the bes t offshore techniques with nearshore site investigations.

Eric Zon, managing director of Lankelma, said, “The expansion of our marine fleet is in line with the strategy of increasing Lankelma’s global presence, as well as expanding our specialist overwater capability.”

José Parra, geoscience manager of Geohidra, said: “We look forward to having Lankelma’s jack-up join forces with Geohidra’s three on-site exploration units: one geotechnical vessel and two jack-ups.”

Lankelma has also shipped a 6x6 21tonne CPT truck to Venezuela. The rig, which has been completely refurbished, will be used by Geohidra to carry out CPT as part of the onshore investigations for the bridge approaches. “This was the first CPT truck we brought to the UK when we set up Lankelma,” said Zon. “Having served us well, it will be sorely missed by the UK team but it is great to see that it will have a new lease of life in South America.”

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