No ‘pipe dream’: Aegion SA’s trenchless pipeline rehabilitation technology offers ultra-fast, non-disruptive solution to Southern Africa’s ageing infrastructure

A major motivation for the establishment of leading local pipeline rehabilitation technology provider Aegion South Africa was the deteriorating state of much of Southern Africa’s pipeline infrastructure.

In South Africa, for example, while there is currently an urgent drive to conserve water, much of the country’s usable water resource is lost through leaks in municipal pipeline networks; as well as through leaking sewers and storm water pipelines, with the attendant negative environmental impact.

Conventional methods of repair involve digging up old pipelines and replacing them. However, in highly dense urban and peri-urban areas, this is often an almost impossible task, as it involves major and costly disruption to other infrastructure along the route of the pipeline.

“As Aegion South Africa, we circumvent this problem through the application of our tried and tested, proprietary international trenchless technology. The application of this technology achieves permanent, stronger and safer solutions for the rehabilitation of pipeline infrastructure – combined with excellent local experience and expertise,” says Johann Scholtz, General Manager of Aegion South Africa.

Scholtz explains that Aegion South Africa’s shareholders are Robor South Africa (40%) and the US-based company Aegion (60%), a widely acknowledged global leader in the field of proprietary trenchless technology solutions and pipeline rehabilitation. Its capabilities encompass the fields of pipeline rehabilitation, services to new pipelines, the restoration of the pipeline integrity, cathodic protection, structural reinforcement and refinery maintenance.

“Furthermore, our local partner Robor does leading-edge manufacturing of longitudinally-welded steel tube and pipe; and a range of steel pipe and customised conveyance pipe solutions which  provides complete piping solutions to the infrastructure market ,” Scholtz says.

“Robor’s shareholding and our partnership with them grounds and lends further relevance to Aegion South Africa within the local Southern African context; as well as providing a well-established track-record and platform from which to execute projects both locally and in sub-Saharan Africa,” he adds.

Aegion in the US is the parent company for Corrpro, Insituform and United Pipeline Systems. As global leaders in infrastructure, these brands provide proprietary technologies and services for the corrosion protection of industrial pipelines and for rehabilitating and strengthening sewer, water and mining pipeline infrastructure. Aegion South Africa has access to these technologies and the intellectual property (IP) supporting them.

The South African business has two main focus points:

  • Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP) pipeline rehabilitation
  • Hydro-transportation, (the conveyance of solids by pumping)

“As explained, the pipeline infrastructure in much of Africa is in need of rehabilitation. CIPP presents a cost-effective and extremely fast method of restoring pipeline integrity. This replaces and is vastly superior from a technology and cost perspective to conventional ‘dig and repair’ methods of pipeline rehabilitation. Aegion-branded Insituform is especially suited to provide long-lasting quality solutions in the execution of CIPP rehabilitation projects.

Since inception, we have already completed a number of successful pipeline rehabilitation and hydro-transportation projects,” Scholtz advises.

Further augmenting the company’s in-house, on-the-ground expertise, is the recent appointment of Craig Bennett, a seasoned local expert in the field of cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) and trenchless technology.

“Craig has more than two decades of experience in an extensive range of pipeline rehabilitation technologies and techniques. As he and our team had worked together on various projects, it became apparent that there were sound synergies and benefits, which have seen him joining Aegion South Africa and bringing his expert team with him,” explains Scholtz.

“I have always held Aegion internationally in high esteem and therefore welcome the opportunity to join the Aegion South Africa, and make a tangible difference to the state of South Africa’s deteriorating pipeline infrastructure,” says Bennett.

Aegion South Africa furthermore recognises the importance of forging strategic partnerships in order to effectively enable and execute its infrastructure rehabilitation projects.

“At the centre of any project, we provide the local technology and expertise platform and footprint; and in so doing, already have a successful track record of close collaboration with several capable, professional empowerment partners with substantial hands-on experience,” says Scholtz. The company has also developed a locally relevant business model which accommodates the various stakeholders that are invariably involved in any major rehabilitation project.

Typically, rehabilitating a pipeline under a major urban highway would rate as a highly disruptive dig and repair job. “To dig up a pipeline such as this would traditionally involve some six weeks of huge cost and inconvenience to thousands of motorists.

With Insituform, we are able to complete a project such as this in just four days – with no inconvenience to the road authorities or the public,” Bennett comments, adding that without this level of innovative trenchless pipeline technology, certain rehabilitation projects would be fraught with difficulty and prohibitively expensive.

“Speaking from my personal experience, Insituform’s InsituMain product is the leading CIPP technology on the market as the lining it produces is both thinner and stronger, meaning that projects such as the one described can be far more quickly and effectively completed,” adds Bennett.

In addition, Aegion South Africa has substantial local experience and expertise in the field of hydro-transportation. This involves pumping solids through the pipeline in a fluid medium; and is of particular application in the mining industry, an example being the pumping of high specific-gravity paste tailings.

In summary, Aegion South Africa offers its customers the ability to find appropriate solutions to seemingly insurmountable technical challenges.

“We are now able to offer South Africa – and the rest of the continent –  proprietary, innovative and high-quality rehabilitation solutions for leak-free, environmentally-friendly, stronger and safer pipeline infrastructure going forward,” he concludes.