By Patricia Maresch, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Dutch dredging company Van Oord has won a trade award for completing a unique project in the Amazon. Van Oord has completed its first so-called ‘subsea rock installation’ on two gas pipelines for Brazilian oil and gas company Petrobras. Van Oord has been active in Brazil since 1985 with offshore, dredging and marine activities, but this is the first gas pipeline project which transports gas from the onshore Solimões basin to the city of Manaus.

Van Oord fallpipe vessel at Manaus, Amazon, Brazil, Oil, News
Van Oord fallpipe vessel in Manaus, photo by Ernst Daniel Nijboer.

The pipelines, at the bottom of the Rio Negro river in the Amazon, were stabilized and protected by rocks, something that has never been done before in Brazil.

The Dutch Chamber of Commerce in São Paulo was unanimous in their decision to hand out the first prize of the ‘Dutcham’ Trade Award 2011 for the best business achievement in Brazil to Van Oord. The jury called the joint project “challenging and unique”.

Project manager Bert Bouwmeester, who collected the trophy on behalf of the Dutch company, said the award was “not only a big compliment for Petrobras and Van Oord, but also a tribute to all of the Brazilian companies involved.”

According to Van Oord’s project coordinator Hans Bijen, the operation was a big challenge: “The project is situated in an area where we have never worked before, in the middle of the Amazon. We are used to implement such projects at sea, so we had no experience in this area. The second major challenge was the logistics of transporting 40,000 tons of rock from the Amazon interior to our installation in the river.”

Filming in Manaus, Amazon, Brazil, Oil News
Filming in Manaus, photo by Ernst Daniel Nijboer.

Another one-of-a-kind element of this project was that Petrobras and Van Oord together hired Dutch maritime photographer and filmmaker, Ernst Daniel Nijboer, to capture the entire process on film.

“When doing the offshore filming in Manaus, we certainly needed to make some adjustments and improvise, especially when we were filming on a shaky vessel, in full operation of rock dumping, under the burning, hot sun. But the result is an informative and satisfying film production,” Nijboer said. Both companies were so pleased with the end result, that Nijboer shared the award with Van Oord.

Nijboer, a former reporter for Dutch television, came to Brazil four years ago and has since started his own Visuals and Communication Studio Brasil. “You need to take long deep breaths when doing business in Brazil,” Nijboer says smiling. “But I think that, in the end, us making films for an oil and gas giant like Petrobras, can be considered one of the Dutch business successes in Brazil.”

Petrobras’ production of gas in the Amazon has reached an average of 116,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The natural gas production in the Amazon has risen 6.5 percent in April, in comparison with the same month last year.


  1. Nice news.
    I was the superintendent responsible for the production and transport of rocks used in the project.


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