Saudi Arabia 5 August 2010

Download Example of Results

The Challenge

In the summer of 2010, Jacobs Zate, an amalgamation of Jacobs Engineering and the Saudi Arabian firm of Zamel & Turbag Consulting Engineers (ZATE), commissioned Apex Global Marketing, a solutions management company in the Gas and Oil Industry to help them route a main gas pipeline across, an already congested Saudi desert.

Following previous work undertaken in Saudi Arabia, Geotec Surveys, have a partnering agreement with Apex and were asked to assist them in identifying the most appropriate route for the proposed gas main.

Apex sent Geotec existing drawings of known areas of congestion, indicating a large amount of known services, telecoms and utilities, however the precise number of these and their location and depth was unknown and inconsistent along the 58Km (36 mile) route.

This project was a challenging one for Geotec and made even more so by the unfamiliar ground composition, the adjustments that have to be made to radio frequency and GPS equipment, as well as the heat, sand and culture of this unique environment.

The Solution

Geotec surveyed almost c.125,000 square metres, to an average depth of 4 metres for an area linking a central Gas Plant station to a mineral industry city development, on the Coast of the Arabian Gulf, with a proposed pipe line 58Km (36 miles) long, of which Geotec surveyed 15 different areas, along this stretch.

Geotec were able to locate buried utilities including electrical cables, telecoms, metallic and non-metallic, pipelines and concrete structures running across and parallel, to the proposed pipeline route.

The on-site technicians were able to do this by using a combination of highly reliable tools and techniques such as Ground Probing Radar (GPR), Cover Lifting, Radio Frequency Location and Detection, including threading and Electromagnetic Distance Meters (EDM) for topographical surveying.

Geotec also worked with a local company to integrate the topographical survey data into the clients GPS coordinates system as we could not use the usual data correction technology, working in a foreign country.

Some elements of the proposed pipe line also ran through a subakha area, which is a hardened area of sand mixed with seawater, which the team were able to successfully survey due to the experience they have of different soil compositions, together with local assistance, from our partners, Apex, and the quality and flexibility of the detection devices used, most of which were shipped into Saudi Arabia from our offices in Wormley, Surrey.

Prior to the works starting, the Geotec surveyors had to become familiar with and successfully complied with Saudi Aramco safety procedures, including wearing coveralls, in a very hot location, whilst ensuring that the usual high standards of health and safety were maintained on site. The same principles which lead to Geotec being awarded accreditation by Achilles Verify and CHAS, amongst others, were also transferred into the new environment.

In order to combat against the intense 50oC heat, as well as the sandy terrain, the team had to adjust appropriately and thus used less common methods of working, including the use of marker flags and survey nails, instead of paint, and had to work from 3am, until 11am, to avoid the hottest times of the day.

"The underground mapping work Geotec Surveys undertook for us, has been of the highest quality and allowed us to pre-plan our work with more confidence, efficiency and above all, safety."

GIS Project Manager

Survey Request


Methods & Techniques

  • Radio Frequency
  • GPR
  • Resistivity / Imaging
  • Electro Magnetics
  • Micro-Gravity

The Result

The completed drawings illustrate 2 of the 15 surveyed areas, indicating the route of the proposed pipe line, in red, with a number of other services, pipelines and cable routes which criss-cross, at different depths, as indicated by the attached extract. The most congested areas indicated around 15-20 different cables and pipes, some up to 42 inches in diameter, zig-zagging across the proposed route.

The most crucial element of the survey was to indicate the depth of these services, as the client was then able to successfully use directional drilling and thrust boar methods to drill underneath these pipes and cables, safely and effectively in order to lay the new gas pipe.