Contracting Spectacular helicopter transportation of a penstock pipe at the Escale dam

Hydropipe International is an Ortec Group subsidiary dedicated to working on hydroelectric structures and on the installation of forced pipes, in particular.

This is precisely what led the company, set up in Bénéjacq in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques, to get involved in the work at the Escale dam in Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban in the Alpes de Haute-Provence region. The operation involved installing a penstock pipe on one of the dam’s “ski jumps”.

The objective was to temporarily restore the instream flow of the River Durance in order to guarantee ecological continuity downstream of the dam during the construction work. This operation followed on from the work on the Escale dam already begun in 2013, involving the rehabilitation of the agricultural water intake of the Manosque canal, as part of a major project designed to modernise and secure France’s hydraulic dams. Incidentally, the very first operation also involved diverting the water supplying the canal via an initial 900-mm diameter drain pipe, currently in operation.

On 28 January, HPI called on a Swiss contractor to transport by helicopter a steel penstock pipe with a 1,200-mm diameter, divided into 5 parts, each weighing up to 4 tonnes. The delicate manoeuvre took place under excellent climatic conditions. About a dozen people were involved in the slinging, heliporting and pipe-laying tasks. A great success for the HPI teams working on an impressive project!