Locked on Danube River Navigability

Published: September 30, 2014
Locks in Cernoavoda on the Danube-Black Sea canal ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest

 

In 2003, the Danube River was identified as a key Pan-European Transport corridor. Ensuring its navigability is a Romanian and European Commission (EC) focus that has seen Tractebel Engineering involved in major Feasibility Studies; leading to a lock rehabilitation project on two Danube-Black Sea Canals and more.

A DOUBLY FEASIBLE START

The lock project is one of many stemming from a huge navigability programme driven by the Ministry of Transports of Romania. Due to ageing infrastructure and seasonal variations in water depth which slow and can even stop river traffic – all projects are geared to achieve an optimised Lower Danube river transport system. Read more

LOCK REHABILITATION ON 2 NAVIGABLE CHANNELS

Operated by the National Company Administration of Navigable Channels the Danube-Black Sea Canal (64 km) & Poarta Alba – Midia- Navodari Branch Canal (27.5 km) short-cut the route from the Danube River to the Black Sea by 400 km. 4 locks connect the Danube at 1. Cernavoda and the Black Sea south of Constanta at 2. Agigea. The eastern branch canal leads via 3. Ovidiu to 4. Navodari (on the northern Black Sea –Midia seaport).  Both canals support goods transport barge-convoys and are a critical link in the Danube transport system. Read more

POSITIVE FUTURE FOCUS

Romania’s geopolitical position makes it a natural hub for West/East Europe and onwards to Asia. Now, as more EU funding is being released, developing a functional, modern inter-modal transport system is part of the masterplan. Read more


  • Canal ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest Canal ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest
  • Locks in Agigea on the Danube-Black Sea canal ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest Locks in Agigea on the Danube-Black Sea canal ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest
  • Locks in Agigea on the Danube-Black Sea canal ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest Locks in Agigea on the Danube-Black Sea canal ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest

 

A DOUBLY FEASIBLE START

The lock project is one of many stemming from a huge navigability programme driven by the Ministry of Transports of Romania. Due to ageing infrastructure and seasonal variations in water depth which slow and can even stop river traffic – all projects are geared to achieve an optimised Lower Danube river transport system.

A CALCULATED STARTING POINT

Bringing long experience in Danube and other waterways projects, Tractebel Engineering has been involved early in providing consultancy services on one complex project and in delivering design, consultancy and technical assistance on 2 separate and extensive Feasibility Studies:

2004 – 2013:
General Consultancy on the “Bank protection on Sulina Channel and topographic and hydrographic survey and signalling system on the Danube

2004 – 2007 DANUBE 1:

  • The navigability improvement /riverbed correction of a 200 km river stretch crossing Romanian territory between Calarasi and Braila.
  • The navigability improvement / riverbed correction at a critical point Batin on the Romanian – Bulgarian common section of the Danube.
  • The potential extension of one of the Danube’s river ports – Calafat Harbour.

2007 – 2011 DANUBE 2:

  • The navigability improvement /riverbed correction of some critical sectors of the 500 km river stretch between Iron Gates II and Calarasi / Silistra which forms the bulk of the Bulgarian/Romanian border.
  • The navigability improvement of the Tulcea harbour area.
  • The upgrade of the Danube-Black Sea Canal and north-east branch Poarta Alba-Midia-Navodari Canal focussed on; the refurbishment of 4 locks and pumping station systems (one system being important to maintain cooling water levels for Cernavoda NPP); completion and protection of embankments; a berth for dismantling/connecting barge convoys.
  • Design,tender documentation and Cohesion Fund Application for the Calafat Harbour extension.

As all river sections presented different issues, hydraulic mathematical models developed by Tractebel Engineering (IMDC – Protecting Ghana’s coastline) were central to identifying solutions (river bed dredging, silt handling, groynes, etc.), as well as the cost implications of tackling the various navigation problems.

ENVIRONMENTAL CARE

The Danube (in Romania) passes many EU Nature 2000 sites so environmental studies (EIA) were also vital to devise protection measures along with navigation development – e.g. chevron-shape groynes to direct flow but also encourage small islands to develop where protected bird and fish species can breed. Early EIA, important to the Waterway Administrators and stakeholders, benefited from the local law and permitting knowledge of Tractebel Engineering’s Romanian experts.

NEXT STEPS

Both Danube 1 & 2 Feasibility Studies identified multiple sites in need of interventions – most requiring additional EIA and funding approval. However some projects are already being executed; such as the lock rehabilitation and modernisation of the Danube-Black Sea Canal & Poarta Alba – Midia- Navodari Branch Canal.


Locks in Agigea on the Danube-Black Sea canal ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest

Locks in Agigea on the Danube-Black Sea canal ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest

 

LOCK REHABILITATION ON 2 NAVIGABLE CHANNELS

Operated by the National Company Administration of Navigable Channels the Danube-Black Sea Canal (64 km) & Poarta Alba – Midia- Navodari Branch Canal (27.5 km) short-cut the route from the Danube River to the Black Sea by 400 km. 4 locks connect the Danube at 1. Cernavoda and the Black Sea south of Constanta at 2. Agigea. The eastern branch canal leads via 3. Ovidiu to 4. Navodari (on the northern Black Sea –Midia seaport).  Both canals support goods transport barge-convoys and are a critical link in the Danube transport system.

A MISSION OF MANY PARTS

With the goal to prepare the canals for foreseen increased shipping traffic; improving navigation safety and cost efficiency, this public tender contract was won by Tractebel Engineering (Romania) with specialist (hydraulic machinery) partner Ecoterra. Begun early 2014, the mission covers the contract management and supervision of the Design & Build (FIDIC Yellow Book) execution of the works focussed on the rehabilitation of the double-channel lock facilities and outdated or obsolete equipment installed back in 1984.

Works involve replacement of service gates, hydraulic equipment, oil motors and electrical and automation equipment (SCADA) and the rehabilitation of other gates, valves, controls, power systems, waterproofing, navigation systems – signalling etc.to achieve:
  • Modernisation of the Cernavoda Lock with rehabilitation of the pumping station assuring constant water level in the canal (the inlet canal to the pumping station assures the cooling water for Cernavoda NPP )
  • Modernisation of the Agigiea Lock
  • Modernisation of the Ovidiu Lock and high flow gallery (penstocks);
  • Modernisation of the Navodari Lock – high flow gallery (penstocks)
  • Rehabilitation of the pump station that protects a number of villages in the Constanta County against flooding

MANY PLAYERS & CHALLENGES MET

Assuring reliable site presence and reactivity on any issues throughout the project is key to its well-controlled supervision.  Importantly, the contractor is a consortium of 5 companies! Tractebel Engineering’s skill in overseeing all contracts and encouraging cohesion between players is valued. In terms of design, the task is to ensure compliance with the terms of references and very fixed specifications as works will be executed on  one channel of each lock at a time allowing vessels to continue to pass. Besides strict planning, regular H&S checks also ensure the safety of workers and vessels is respected.

“In addition to the experience we bring, that we are Romanians working with Romanian Administrators is a big part of our value as Romania has particular ways of working, specific construction laws and procedures – understanding this is important to the way we deliver our technical and managerial inputs – and the ultimate success of the project flow!”
Petre Iancu – Project Manager Danube-Black Sea Canal Locks, Tractebel Engineering (Romania)


  • From l. to r. Florin Alexe, Liliana Ghinescu, Cristovao Rocha ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest From l. to r. Florin Alexe, Liliana Ghinescu, Cristovao Rocha ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest
  • The Danube river ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest The Danube river ©Valentin Munteanu, Bucharest

 

POSITIVE FUTURE FOCUS

Romania’s geopolitical position makes it a natural hub for West/East Europe and onwards to Asia. Now, as more EU funding is being released, developing a functional, modern inter-modal transport system is part of the masterplan.

ROMANIA’S TIDE IS TURNING

Since joining the EU, limited infrastructure development/rehabilitation has taken place to allow Romania to take full advantage of its strategic position. The country’s river and sea ports are still quite small with limited handling capacity and only about 400 km of all roads are motorways. Now, with the support of the EU the development of an inter-modal transport system with waterway upgrades, port extensions, bridges, motorways, and possibly airports, is on the cards.

TRACTEBEL ENGINEERING – WELL POSITIONED

As market leaders in the transport sector in Romania with experience in all infrastructure fields; appreciated for its secure group backing, wide range of infrastructure and complimentary energy competences, as well as its localised expertise and approach, this is good news for Tractebel Engineering. Serving Administrations, contractors and developers alike, the company has the resources and expertise to meet the local market needs as projects arise

As well as waterway projects, like the canal locks, Tractebel Engineering is working towards some new projects within the POS MEDIU II Structural Funds Programme for the period 2014-2020. New discussions between – exporters and Romanian Port Administrators -related to the feasibility of extending some Danube ports to enable trade with China – could mean more big projects in the very near future. Romania’s transport future also includes development of the country’s road infrastructure – a sector in which Tractebel Engineering is also well positioned to assist and take part.

Rare value

“That we have few serious Romanian competitors in this field is a sign of how difficult a sector it is to “navigate” even for local companies. In terms of legislation, permitting, language and processes surrounding tenders and funding – every project is an administration as well as a technical challenge. Our experience serves us and our clients well in this regard.”
Liliana Ghinescu – Dept. Head Environment, Tractebel Engineering (Romania)

Doubling up

Tractebel Engineering (Romania) offers strong core design competences and consultancy services to both the construction (EPC) and Romania’s different regional Water Administrations.

Danube facts

The Danube River flows through 10 (mostly EU), countries. It marks Romania’s border with Serbia and Bulgaria and shares the Danube Delta with the Ukraine on the Black Sea. 1,000 km of the Danube’s 2,860 km length is on Romanian soil. To promote inland navigation transport in Europe (a single inland navigation vessel can carry the same volume of goods as 173 trucks), the EC designated the Danube as Pan-European Transport Corridor VII. Linked with the Rhine River, it is the backbone of the North Sea and the Black Sea connection.

More information

Florin-Constantin Alexe, Environment Engineer & Deputy Project Manager Danube 2, Tractebel Engineering (Romania)
Petre Iancu – Project Manager Danube-Black Sea Canal Locks, Tractebel Engineering (Romania)
Liliana Ghinescu – Dept. Head Environment, Tractebel Engineering (Romania)

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