East Meets West At 46th IPLOCA Convention

The 46th Annual International Pipeline and Offshore Contractors Association (IPLOCA) Convention convened recently in Istanbul, a dynamic city where East meets West and the past and present collide. The venue was perfectly suited as the 680 delegates from around the globe.

The program kicked-off with welcoming remarks by Osman Birgili, outgoing president of IPLOCA and senior vice president of Tekfen Construction.

Birgili joined Tekfen as an engineer almost 35 years ago because he sought the international experiences that the company offered while allowing him to remain in his hometown of Istanbul. He started attending IPLOCA meetings 15 years ago, initially with the purpose of networking, but soon learned to appreciate the IPLOCA family not only for the business opportunities but also for the interesting people. “I like eating and drinking as well,” joked Birgili.

This is the third time that Birgili has served on the IPLOCA Board. As president, he is proud of the Pipeline Construction Safety Instructors Tool which has been made available to members this year as well as getting Onshore Pipelines: The Road to Success online and starting the third edition. Unfortunately, Birgili echoed the frustration of the two previous presidents stating that IPLOCA needs more dedication from its members and increased participation in committees and workgroups.

First-time sponsors' representatives included, left to right : Jim and Catherine Watkins, Pipeline & Gas Journal magazine; Christy and Bill Solomon, VacuWorx Global.

The convention speakers that followed Birgili’s introduction also reflected the diversity of place and time, opening with an historic overview of Istanbul and its population by Prof. Ilber Ortayli, the former head of the Topkapi Museum, and continuing with a forward-looking presentation by Suzanne Minter of BENTEK Energy on the importance of shale gas.

Minter attributed the phenomenal growth of U.S. shale finds to technology development, pointing out a rig efficiency rate improving 610 percent compared to five years earlier. She emphasized the positive impact on drilling rig counts, with about 12 rigs added every month for the past year, the potential investment of over $15 billion in pipeline projects in the U.S. in the next five years and an estimated 4.1 MMbd due to increased rig counts for 2011-2016 in the lower 48 states.

Bruce Luberski, vice president for BP’s Global Project Organization, presented BP’s largest gas discovery, the Shah Deniz field. Luberski discussed the scope and challenges of these seven mega-projects which include over 3,000 km of pipeline chain and 26 subsea wells.

Further east, Andreas Kohler of ILF Consulting Engineers, discussed the Trans-Asia Gas Pipeline from Turkmenistan to China as well as the West to East pipelines.

New pipeline projects are attention-grabbing. However, Bill Hoff from Gulf Interstate Engineering Company and Edward Wiegele from Willbros Engineers reminded the delegates of the state of existing pipelines and the critical importance of maintaining the pipeline infrastructure. Other presentations included : consideration of the requirements for the design and commissioning of long distance slurry pipelines by Angus Patterson of Patterson & Cooke ; a case study on the construction of a slurry pipeline in Madagascar by Hisham Kawash of Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) ; and a review of the Nord Stream Offshore Pipeline project by Daslav Brkic of Saipem, the main contractor of the most complex offshore pipeline ever built.


The IPLOCA Health and Safety Award, sponsored by Chevron, was presented in recognition of a significant achievement in this area. Adam Wynne Hughes, IPLOCA Health and Safety committee chair, reviewed the past year’s record and presented the award to Willbros in recognition of their “Investing in Safety” program using safety talismans to increase worker awareness. IPLOCA named two runners-up: Max Streicher for their Pocket Alarm and CCC for their “Innovation in Health and Safety Awareness and Communication” program.

Adam Wynne Hughes (left), IPLOCA Health and Safety committee chair, presents an award to Willbros in recognition of their “Investing in Safety” program using safety talismans to increase worker awareness. Representing  the Willbros Group are Brad MacLean (center) and Jerrit Coward.

The IPLOCA Environmental Award, sponsored by Shell, was presented in recognition of a step forward in pipeline construction that reduces the impact on the environment. The committee presented the award to CCC for their “Creativity in Waste Management” program which included turning trash into art or other useful objects (trash cans and benches).

During the convention, the association also elected the 2012-2013 Board of Directors.

Officers : IPLOCA President and Director for North America Douglas Evans, Gulf Interstate Engineering; First Vice President and Director for Middle East & Africa Najib Khoury, CCC; and Treasurer and Director for Europe Central Harald Dresp, Max Streicher.

Regional Directors:
Director for Central Europe — Jan Koop, Bohlen-Doyen;
Directors for Eastern Europe — Kaan Dogan, Attila Dogan Construction & Installation Company Inc., and Iosif Panchak, Stroygazmontazh;
Directors for Mediterranean Europe — Leonardo Gravina, Sicim, and Bruno Maerten, GEOCEAN;
Directors for Northwest Europe — Andy Ball, Land & Marine, and Adam Wynne Hughes, CRC-Evans;
Director for North America — Scott Summers, ARB, Inc.;
Directors for Latin America — Jesus Garcia Pons, Arendal, and Raul Vilugron, Montec :
Director for Middle East & Africa: Ibrahim Zakhem, Zakhem International Construction; and
Directors for East & Far East — Andy Lukas, A.J. Lucas, and Sandip Sharma, Kalpataru.

Associate Member directors elected were Greg Miller, Pipeline Inspection Co., Michael Rae, Argus Ltd. and Pierluigi Zanin, Goriziane Group.

Directors-at-Large included : Jerrit Coward, Willbros Group Inc. ; Marco Jannuzzi, Caterpillar ; Wilhelm Maats, Maats Pipeline Equipment ; Karl Trauner, HABAU ; and
Jean-Claude Van de Wiele, Spiecapag.

At the final banquet, the association raised more than $17,500 for Birgili’s chosen charity through the lottery of a car. Sponsored by Volvo Construction Equipment and Renault Trucks, the money benefited the Send Me To School, Dad program, an initiative to support continuing education for girls in Turkey.

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