Petroterminal de Panama: Tailoring Construction to Unique Geographic Conditions

_01_HERO_Petroterminal_Aerial view of the Charco Azul terminal and Weeks 531 Barge

In August of 2021, Weeks Marine completed work at the Petroterminal de Panama’s (PTP) Charco Azul Terminal. The terminal feeds into a trans-isthmian pipeline that is 130 km long and it transports approximately 7 million barrels of crude per month from the Atlantic Terminal, located in Chiriquí Grande on the Atlantic Ocean, to the Pacific Terminal.

The project scope was to replace four breasting dolphins that both protect crude oil tankers from hitting the pier and help stabilize them while they are moored.

But prior to commencing work at the Charco Azul Terminal, extensive preparation was required to mobilize the project. The terminal’s remote location on the Pacific Coast of the Republic of Panama, about 3.5 miles south of the Puerto Armuelles community in the Chiriquí province, made it necessary to deliver all equipment on a single voyage with the Weeks 531 Crane Barge.

The Weeks Team on the Weeks 531 Barge

Moreover, the voyage included passage through the Panama Canal, a transit which required coordination with towing services and shipping agents, and the clearance from the Panama Canal Authority.

In April of 2021, after months of planning, Weeks successfully made the 22-day passage from Morgan City, Louisiana and arrived at the terminal. Once on-site Weeks quickly got to work replacing the four breasting dolphins at the terminal.

The Weeks 531 Crane Barge passes through the Panama Canal.

“The dolphins need to support the very large crude carriers that service the terminal and are located in deep water on a very steep slope,” said Ramferi Galvan Gomez, who served as project manager. “These factors influenced both the engineering of the large size dolphins and the selection of equipment needed to install them.”

The dolphins were designed with 7-foot and 9-foot diameter monopiles, weighing up to 245 tons. These monopiles were driven to depths of 80 feet with the Weeks 531.

To accomplish this, the Weeks 531 was outfitted with the industry’s most powerful hammers, including a 14-ton Piston Diesel Impact Hammer and 351 Ton Maximum Line Pull Quad Beam Vibratory Hammer.

With careful planning and the right team and equipment, Weeks completed the replacement of all four dolphins.

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