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A decade of Bauer in Panama: “Latin America is a growing market”

BAUER Spezialtiefbau GmbH has significantly shaped the development and advancement of specialist foundation engineering and is a reliable partner undertaking excavations, foundations, cut-off walls and ground improvement all over the world. In order to be able to react optimally to the particularities and demands of the respective foreign market, there are meanwhile over 40 subsidiaries providing Bauer's specialist foundation engineering expertise and technical knowledge all over the globe, allowing Bauer to look back on over a decade of success in Latin America.


At the end of 2006, founded with two employees and a Bauer rotary drilling rig BG 22, BAUER Fundaciones Panamá S.A. had developed in just ten years into the center of Bauer's activities in Latin America, with further subsidiaries in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Columbia. Furthermore, work is also being carried out in the region's neighboring countries. Bauer currently has eight large diameter rotary drilling rigs in Latin America (BG 28, BG 39 and BG 40), three vibro units and two diaphragm wall grabs, putting it in a position to carry out a wide range of specialist foundation engineering projects – from bored pile foundations, diaphragm walling works and ground improvement right up to anchoring work. Be it either in Panama, the Caribbean or on the Latin American mainland: Bauer was and is involved with some of the most extensive infrastructure projects in the region.

First Metro Line for Panama City

In order to improve the traffic situation in Panama's capital and to create an alternative to the Metrobus public transportation system, the first subway line in Panama City was built from the end of 2010 to March 2014. The Metro Line 1 has a total length of almost 16 km with 14 stops – six of which elevated to be above ground and eight underground. BAUER Fundaciones Panamá S.A. was contracted by Consorcio Línea Uno to build the diaphragm walls of four underground subway stations and to construct several secant pile walls for ventilation and emergency shafts. In this project, two BAUER BC 40 cutters and two BG 28 rotary drilling rigs were used. Bauer's work lasted from June 2011 until June 2012. After commissioning the Metro Line 1 in March 2014, the order for the foundation work for an additional subway line followed for BAUER Fundaciones Panamá S.A.. In contrast to the first line, Line 2 is elevated and runs completely above ground, which required the installation of over 1,000 foundation piles. The realization of 770 of these piles in total was assigned to Bauer at the end of 2015. The bored piles with a diameter of 2.25 m had to be installed to a depth of 40 m – right in the middle of a very busy urban highway without interrupting the constant flow of traffic. A BG 40, BG 39 and BG 28 were used for the pile drilling work. The project was completed in February 2018 after various additional works have been carried out.

Artificial islands off the coast of Panama City

For a private real-estate project, work began off the Pacific coast of Panama City in 2012 on two artificially reclaimed islands: the Ocean Reef Islands. For this purpose, sand was dredged from the seabed and transported by ship to the coast. Using a pipeline system, the sand was pumped to its final destination just off the coast. This allowed 180,000 m² of new land to be reclaimed for the artificial islands. In order to prepare the ground for development, Bauer was appointed by Boskalis Panama for the vibroflotation (VF) of the sand down to a depth of 15 m. During this process, the sand is „suspended“ by water or air flushing, the vibrator is submerged and a settlement funnel forms on the ground surface, which is filled with material. By incrementally pulling the vibrator, a densified zone emerges. The vibroflotation of the first island was performed in a triangular grid of 3 x 3 m and with over 12,000 densification points. The work was carried out from June until November 2012. For the second island, a larger grid of 3.2 x 3.2m was possible, which is why only 9,000 densification points were required here. In April 2017, work on the second island was successfully completed after six months.

New cargo port in Costa Rica

Costa Rica' s port facilities are no longer sufficient to cope with the country's growing freight traffic. For this reason, close to the port of Moin, a new container terminal is currently being built on an artificial island. Work on the first construction phase began in 2015 and comprised a 40 ha container storage area and the 650 m long wharf. Bauer was contracted by the Dutch consortium Van Oord-BAM Ltda. to produce 180,000m of stone columns, which were installed to a depth of 24 m using the vibro replacement method. During this process, fill material is transported to the tip of the vibrator and compacted in several stages. Furthermore, Bauer carried out 330,000 m³ of ground improvement using the Mixed-in- Place method, whereby the existing soil was mixed with a cement suspension using a triple auger. Furthermore, the top 3 m of the container storage area was compacted using a high-energy impact roller. The main work on the ground improvement was completed in May 2017 after a construction phase lasting 12 months. Foundation work for new power station in the Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic frequently experiences massive power cuts, often affecting the entire island state with a surface area of 49,000 km². In order to counteract this problem, a new coal-fired power plant is being constructed 40 km from the capital city Santo Domingo in order to ensure the country's electricity supply in the future.

In September 2014, Bauer received the order from the Odebrecht-Tecnimont- Estrella consortium for the special foundation and ground improvement works of the 720 MW Punta Catalina power plant. The project comprised the foundation work for all important structures of the plant, including the turbine hall of the 160 m high chimney and the coal storage area. In addition, the construction of diaphragm and cut-off walls for the inlet and outlet structures of the cooling water on the coast were appointed to Bauer. Bauer’s scope of works comprised soil compaction with around 210,000 m of stone columns down to a depth of 17 m, the installation of 72,000 m of slurry-supported bored piles with a diameter of up to 1.2 m and the construction of 13,000 m² of diaphragm wall with a thickness of 1.2 m and a depth of 30 m. Furthermore, plastic concrete was used for 2,500 m² of a two-phase cut-off wall. Three BAUER BG 28 rotary drilling rigs, a diaphragm wall grab and three vibro units were used among other equipment for the work. The work was successfully completed within 30 months.

Besides all this projects, Bauer was also able to successfully acquire, carry out and complete many other orders in the region. “Latin America is a growing market that requires increasing investment to improve the infrastructure. More and more complex projects are being planned and carried out in order to satisfy the needs for new roads, ports, airports and a reliable electricity supply of a growing population” says Hans Schwarzweller, Managing Director of BAUER Fundaciones Panamá S.A. “Over the past decade, Bauer has successfully established itself as a reliable partner for all kinds of specialist foundation engineering projects – not least thanks to its successful implementation of complex and prestigious projects.”

Source: © BAUER Group