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BerraVia | Bypass for a highly sensitive natural landscape | Projects | Issue 13 • August 2020 | Line Pipe Global

Line Pipe Global

Issue 13 • August 2020


Bypass for a highly sensitive natural landscape

It is not always easy to reconcile nature conservation and economic interests. A good example of how it can be done is the "BerraVia" project in southern France. HFI-welded pipes from Mannesmann Line Pipe have a big hand in this.


At the beginning of 2000, the French company Géosel-Manosque started to rehabilitate its pipeline network from the 1960s and 1970s. In the meantime, almost 70 kilometers of pipes between Lavéra and Manosque have already been replaced. The "BerraVia" project is a section of the GSM 1 and GSM 2 Géosel-Manosque hydrocarbon and salt-water pipelines laid more than 50 years ago, when the parallel pipelines in this section were laid for economic reasons through the lagoon "Étang de Berre" as the shortest direct route.

Salt marshes and bird protection

The Étang de Berre area is a unique natural landscape of lagoons, wetlands and limestone hills. Covering some 3,000 hectares, it is the habitat of over 350 bird and 50 mammal species, 135 butterfly species and numerous plant species, several of which are endemic, i.e. not found anywhere else in the world.

New pipeline route due to EIA

Following a comprehensive environmental impact assessment, a new route was therefore plotted. The new route no longer bisects the lagoon, but passes overland to the west and north of the small town of Berre l'Etang. Around 60 % of the new route uses existing pipeline corridors.

1,480 pipes with HDPE coating

The DN 500 steel pipes produced by Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe in wall thicknesses of 8.0 mm, 10.0 mm and 12.5 mm were made from L415ME and coated with HDPE. The roughly 2,200 metric tons were distributed among 1,480 pipes, which were delivered in batches to a central stockyard in Rognac in southern France. For their intended use, they are approved for operating pressures of up to 80, 103 and 120 bar, depending on wall thickness.


Work in the highly sensitive areas only took place outside the nesting season. In the salt marsh area, the trench for the new sections of GSM 1 and GSM 2 was temporarily secured with sheet piling.


Start of work in November 2018

The pipe-laying work was contracted to Eiffage Infrastructures and the laying of the pipeline to Denys France. The new pipelines were laid one meter below the surface level, and 1.5 m deep at intersections with railways or roads. There will be no restrictions on future agricultural activities such as wine-growing, and olive and almond tree plantations. The laying was carried out here at a depth of 1.2 meters.

Close cooperation with nature conservationists

Ecologists and ornithologists were involved in the planning and assessment of the pipe-laying process from the very beginning. In order to allow for bird nesting periods, no work was therefore carried out in the sensitive landscape areas between spring and autumn 2019. The final pipe-laying work is scheduled for completion in the course of 2020. In most pipeline sections, it already looks as if nothing had happened. And thanks to the break, the birds should have noticed almost nothing of the elaborate laying work. Operation accomplished, bypass successfully laid.


  Géosel – one of the largest companies for the transport and storage of fossil energy in Europe

Géosel – one of the largest companies for the transport and storage of fossil energy in Europe

Géosel has a total of 26 caverns for fuels such as heating oil, diesel, naphtha, "super" gasoline and kerosene with a storage capacity of approximately 9 million m³. Another seven caverns are connected to the methane gas terminal in Fos sur Mer and are used for the storage of natural gas with a volume of 2.5 million m³.

In addition, there are two brine caverns and around 400 km of pipelines linking the local refineries and petrochemical complexes with each other and with the national and international pipeline grids. The fuels to be stored are piped from Fos/Lavéra to the pump station in Rognac at 70 bar operating pressure before being fed into Géosel's storage facilities located at a depth of up to 1,000 m.

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