Structural Soils has undertaken several international projects in countries such as Kazakhstan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, France and Africa. These international projects demonstrate the strength, effectiveness and flexibility of our management processes; our geotechnical investigation expertise and sensitivity in addressing local issues; and our capabilities in dealing with third parties and stakeholders.
Careful planning is required for every project to ensure its smooth running. However, the ability to remain flexible and helpful and to have contingency plans in place should the client amend the scope of works is key to successfully delivering international projects.
Structural Soils is appreciative of the unique elements of the many environments in which we work. For example, a project in Kazakhstan comprised training three local geologists in soil and rock logging to BS 5930 for the foundation design of a large copper mine. Weather conditions made the project more challenging, working at −30 degrees with permafrost to 1.5 m deep. The specific contract requirements meant that we needed to log soil samples in both frozen and thawed states.
We translated our in-house logging guide and engineer logging sheets into Russian to assist with data collection from boreholes and trial pits.
Site-wide challenges included the remote nature of the works: we had to ensure we had sufficient and back-up equipment and supplies to ensure efficiency and continuity of works. The severe cold required specialist clothing and personal protective equipment, which ensured we were able to operate effectively and safely in this harsh environment.
Explaining standard penetration tests to our Kazakhstan geologists
Another ground investigation conducted in the South Caucasus region was undertaken to enable site characterisation for the planning, design and construction of a 56-km international gas transport pipeline. The scope also included major river and road crossings, two new compressor stations (one with a new 16-km access road), temporary and permanent accommodation, and pipeline pigging stations.
The work involved varied and very rugged terrain with significant access, environmental and programme constraints. The scope of works covered site access, pre-investigation surveys of underground utilities and services, international site establishment, engineering geological mapping, and forming exploratory holes in soil and rock. Field operations also included in-situ and on-site testing, ground instrumentation and monitoring. Once the fieldwork was complete, recovered samples were sent for geotechnical laboratory testing. The investigation data was reported as both factual and interpretative reports.