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Infrastructure 32

Pacifico 2 La Pintada update April 2019

Thursday, 11 July 2019 17:48 Written by

‘Pacifico 2,’ ‘Transversal de Las Americas’ Nearing Completion; Medellin Connections Improve

Colombia’s national infrastructure agency (Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, ANI) announced April 10, 2019 the completion of a 14-kilometers-long, four-lane divided highway stretch between La Pintada and Puente Iglesias -- part of the 96-kilometers-long “Pacifico 2” upgrades linking Medellin southwestward toward the Pacific.

The latest completions also include a new, two-lane bypass around La Pintada (enabling travelers heading to or from Bolombolo to avoid the knotted city center) and 15 new bridges along the route, according to ANI.

The upgrades also will ease travels from La Pintada to Támesis, Valparaíso, Jericó, Fredonia, Venecia and Puente Iglesias, ANI noted.

Thanks to the latest upgrades, “Pacífico 2 highway has now completed two of five functional units and has achieved a total progress of 65%, which is 9% ahead of schedule,” according to ANI.

The entire “Pacífico 2” project – estimated for completion around mid-2020 -- is budgeted at COP$1.6 trillion (US$ million) including 42.5 kilometers of new roads, 2.5-kilometers of tunnel-ways (including the pioneering Tunel de Mulatos), 54 kilometers of rehabilitated roads and 43 bridges, the agency noted.

Transversal de las Américas (TdA) Update

On a related front, ANI announced April 8 that the 850-kilometers-long Transversal de las Américas (TdA) highway is now 97% complete, boosting freight-traffic efficiency between Antioquia and northern Atlantic ports.

“Among the works that will be ready this year are the new bridge over the Cimitarra River, which has an approximate length of 230 meters, as well as 30 kilometers of new road in the Cantagallo-San Pablo sector (Bolívar) and the completion of a second road in the Montería-El Quince sector (Córdoba),” according to ANI.

“With the transversal, the quality of life of the inhabitants of the regions of Magdalena, Antioquia, Córdoba, Bolívar, Sucre and Cesar improves,” the agency added.

Connecting roads along the transversal will improve travel to Urabá, Apartadó-Carepa and Currulao-Reposo, including a new, 26-kilometers-long road built in the sector of Turbo-Chigorodó due for completion in July, according to ANI.

The entire TdA project includes a new, connecting highway of 38.6 kilometers in length; another 138-kilometers-long stretch of new, two-lane road including two vehicular bridges over 200 meters in length; the 511-meters-long Talaigua Nuevo bridge; the new Cimitarra River bridge still under construction; and rehabilitation of existing roads along the route, according to ANI.

“In addition, it is expected that, along with projects such as the Túnel del Toyo and the Autopistas al Mar 1 (Medellín-Santa Fe de Antioquia-Cañasgordas-Santa Fe de Antioquia-Bolombolo) and Mar 2 (Cañasgordas-El Tigre- Necoclí), the Transversal de las Américas contributes to reducing travel time in the Medellín-Turbo logistics hub from seven to four hours,” according to ANI.


Autopista Rio Magdalena delays April 2019

Thursday, 11 July 2019 17:44 Written by

Aleatica SA subsidiary Autopista Rio Magdalena (ARM) announced April 8, 2019 that it has cancelled its highway construction contract with Obrascon Huarte Lain SA (OHL) and is seeking a new contractor.

The partially completed ARM highway project aims to connect Remedios in northern Antioquia with the “Ruta del Sol” fourth-generation (4g) highway via a new bridge over the Rio Magdalena near Puerto Berrio, Antioquia.

According to ARM, OHL allegedly failed to comply with contract terms including “significant delays” in construction works, despite a COP$150 billion (US$50 million) advanced given to OHL to push forward the project.

Aleatica has notified Colombia’s infrastructure-development oversight agency Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI) about the contract termination.

Meanwhile, Aleatica is working to find a new contractor in order to restart the project “as soon as possible,” according to the company.

So far, Aleatica has invested more than COP$600 billion (US$300 million) in the project, without tapping any government funds, according to the company.

The ARM project includes 155 kilometers of two-lane highway as well as a 1,360-meters-long bridge over the Rio Magdalena. The highway would boost competitiveness of Antioquia’s industries by improving access to Ruta del Sol and the Caribbean coast.

Aleatica is involved in 14 development projects covering 1,087 kilometers mainly in Latin America as well as Spain, with investments topping COP$17 billion (US$5.8 billion), according to the company, which is owned by 27 Australian pension funds and managed by IFM Investors.


Antioquia’s Crucial ‘Mar 1’ Wins Financial Close; Puerto Antioquia Wins Concession; Pacifico 1-2-3 Making Progress

Colombia’s Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez announced March 20 that the “Mar 1” highway project linking Medellin westward to Santa Fe de Antioquia -- and eventually to new Atlantic ports -- just won a COP$2.23 trillion (US$754 million) financial close organized by the “Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional” (FDN) financing agency.

On a related front, Vice President Ramirez simultaneously announced that the long-awaited “Puerto Antioquia” ocean freight port near Turbo, Antioquia, just won a 30-year concession.

That US$300 million port project will include construction of new piers and docking facilities for up to-five ocean ships simultaneously; a four-lane divided highway linking the dock area to terminal facilities; and onward highway linkages to the new “Mar 1” and Mar 2” highways that should be completed over the next six years -- hence bringing Medellin much closer to relatively lower-cost global freight transport.

The new port will handle containerized cargo, highway vehicles, grains, plantains and bananas, according to project developer PIO Sas, in association with global shipping and port-operator Naviera Francesa CMA CGM S.A., plus major regional banana growers.

Civil works on the project will be undertaken by France-based Eiffage Infraestructuras de Francia along wth Colombia-based Termotecnica Coindustrial.

As for the “Mar 1” financial partners, these include Blackrock; the Interamerican Development Bank (IBD) and IBD Invest; CAF; ICO; the German Development Bank (KFW); Sumitomo Mitsui Banking; and France-based Société Générale

Mar 1 includes rehabilitation and operation of existing highway between Santa Fe de Antioquia and Peñalisa (71 kilometers); construction and operation of a second lane between Medellín and Santa Fe de Antioquia (43 kilometers); the construction and operation of a 4.6-kilometers-long, parallel tunnel (adjacent to the existing Tunnel de Occidente) linking Medellin westward toward Santa Fe de Antioquia; and the construction of 46 bridges.

Once completed, Mar 1 (and the connecting “Mar 2” project) will enable Medellin freight shippers and Colombian coffee exporters to tap a much quicker route to Atlantic ports in the Urabá region of Antioquia.

Today, vehicle transport from Medellín to Necoclí on the Atlantic ocean takes eight hours. But once Mar 1 and Mar 2 are complete, then transport time will be cut to four hours, according to Colombia’s Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI).

Construction companies in the Mar 1 project include Austria-based Strabag and its Swiss-based subsididary Strabag AG Switzerland (with 37.5% share); Sacyr (Sacyr Concessions Colombia and Sacyr Concesiones S.L.) with 37.5%, and Colombia-based Concay, S.A. with 25%.

Pacifico 1-2-3 Projects

On a related front, ANI president Louis Kleyn announced earlier this month that the 293-kilometers-long Pacifico 1-2-3 highways linking Medellin to other highways connecting to the Pacific port of Buenaventura continue to make progress -- although completion on “Pacifico 1” between Medellin and Bolombolo isn’t likely until around 2023.

Currently, freight trucks face a grueling, 15-hour-journey to-and-from Medellin to Buenaventura. But the new Pacifico highways would cut that to 10 hours, according to ANI.

Linking Medellin to the Pacific region on modern, four-lane highways -- including many new tunnels and bridges -- will generate “more international trade from the green mountains that connect southwest Antioquia and the coffee region,” according to ANI.

“The progress in the construction of this great corridor is the result of rigorous and disciplined management in social, environmental, property and contract areas, [along with] confidence generated by banks and investors, both domestic and foreign,” according to the agency.

“To date, Pacífico 1 -- the corridor connecting Bolombolo with La Primavera [Medelliin suburb of Caldas] has an execution of 15%, while Pacífico 2 (connecting Bolombolo to La Pintada) has achieved 64% execution, and Pacífico 3 (La Pintada to La Virginia in Risaralda) has advanced by 54%. These three projects total 119 fronts of active works,” according to ANI.

The works will efficiently connect the centers of inputs and production in the north of the country with the coffee zone, the Valle del Cauca and the Pacific Ocean, will benefit the producers and merchants of the departments of Magdalena, Atlántico, Bolívar, Córdoba, Sucre and Antioquia, in the decrease of travel times.

The department of Antioquia has 1,530 km of national road network, it has a strategic location, not only because of its size, but also because of the maritime and fluvial limits and especially the proximity to rivers such as Cauca and Atrato. Therefore, the 4G tracks that are built and those that will cross it are fundamental for the region, since they will promote social progress and become bridges of international trade.

Currently, the travel time of a truck loaded with cargo from Medellín to Buenaventura can take 15 hours, but with the construction of these projects it will be reduced to 10 hours. The time between Manizales and Medellín will also be reduced, from 4 hours and a half to 2 and a half hours, and from the municipality of La Virginia, in Risaralda, to Medellín, it will go from 5 hours 30 minutes to 2 hours 40 minutes, on average.


EPM hidroituango collapse study March 2019

Thursday, 11 July 2019 17:31 Written by

EPM: DESIGN FLAW CAUSED HIDROITUANGO TUNNEL COLLAPSE; RECOVERY UNDERWAY

Medellin-based multinational electric power giant EPM on March 1, 2019 unveiled a long-awaited consultant’s report on the causes behind the April 2018 tunnel collapse that has resulted in a three-year delay in power output from the 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant in Antioquia.

“The results determine that the hypothesis of greater probability is that the obstruction of the auxiliary diversion tunnel (GAD) was due to the ‘progressive erosion of areas of weakness of the rock,’ located on the floor of the tunnel,” according to EPM, quoting the report from Norwegian-Chilean engineering consulting firm Skava Consulting.

“The zones of weakness of the rock were not treated properly, due to a deficiency in the design during the advisory stage,” which was undertaken by Ituango Generation Consortium (Integral - Solingral),” according to EPM’s summary of the study.

A full copy of the study is available here: https://www.epm.com.co/site/estudio-causa-raiz-hidroituango

“The study, which employed scientific methods, was only aimed at analyzing the root cause of a specific event: the plugging in the auxiliary diversion tunnel (GAD) structure that had been in operation since September 2017,” according to EPM.

For the Skava report, seven German, Swiss and Chilean engineers with more than 25 years experience undertook a geotechnical engineering study tapping their expertise in tunnels and dams, in rock engineering, in geology and hydrology, and in civil engineering for mining projects, metering systems and hydroelectric power plants, according to EPM.

“The auxiliary GAD diversion tunnel, which was supposed to operate temporarily, was planned from the end of 2013 -- when the original diversion tunnels were still under construction -- as an alternative that would avoid an additional delay of one year or more in the construction of the main works,” according to EPM’s summary.

When EPM took over the project via a build-own-operate-maintain-transfer (BOOMT) contract in March 2011, “the project schedule already had considerable delays, which could affect [Colombia’s] energy supply,” the company noted.

“The results of this study do not impact the recovery process of the project, in which we continue to work tirelessly. The Ituango hydroelectric project advances in its recovery and in the reduction of risks for people living below the main works.

“If everything progresses as planned, it will contribute electric power [to the national grid] from the year 2021,” EPM concluded.

Blame Games Begin

Meanwhile, a host of Colombia regulatory agencies have already begun piling-on accusations against former EPM and Hidroituango officials over the tunnel collapse and the inevitable economic impacts on consumers and the city of Medellin, which gets 25% of its annual revenues from EPM.

The three-year delay in lost power sales, plus clean-up and reconstruction costs, likely will add at least US$1 billion to the original US$4-billion to US$5-billion cost estimate for the project.

Colombia Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez announced February 27 that he’s planning to bring charges against former Hidroituango SA manager Luis Guillermo Gómez Atehortua, and former EPM-Ituango manager Luis Javier Vélez Duque for alleged failure to meet legal contract requirements.

In addition, Martinez announced that he’s also considering bringing charges against six other former officials connected to the project, including former EPM E.S.P. manager Juan Esteban Calle Restrepo and former Hidroituango project board members Ana Cristina Moreno Palacios, Hugo Alejandro Mora Tamayo, Juan Felipe Gaviria Gutiérrez, Jesus Arturo Aristizábal, and Maximiliano Valderrama Espinosa.

The Attorney General’s investigations focus on the project contracting process and environmental damage arising from construction and the subsequent tunnel collapse in 2018.

The Attorney General stated that preliminary investigations have discovered “improper management of solid waste” that “had a negative impact on natural resources with effects such as the quality, quantity and fluidity of the water; the erosion of the soil and the eventual instability of the mountain” adjacent to the dam.

“During the execution of the project there were contingencies that would have been rejected by those in charge of the project, who would not have had the capacity to attend them because they were prepared for a situation of lesser dimension,” according to the Attorney General.

The Attorney General’s investigation has “identified alleged inconsistencies from the beginning of the project as alleged anomalies in the pre-contractual phase and alleged deficiencies in the execution of the contracts, the studies of design and execution of the work, as well as in the additions authorized to the signing contractor,” according to Martinez.

In response to the allegations, EPM issued a statement saying that it has “acted transparently and within the framework of what the law allows. The company reiterates its permanent disposition to collaborate with the Attorney General’s Office in its investigative process, and with all the control entities that are [regulating] the Hidroituango project, as it has done so far.”

CGR Probe

A parallel investigation now underway by Colombia's Controller General of the Republic (CGR) finds that to date, the cost of the Hidroituango project is close to COP$11.5 trillion [US$3.7 billion], "of which 38.23% (more than COP$4.3 trillion/US$1.4 billion) correspond to EPM's own resources. The remaining 61.77% comes from debt with multilateral banks, equivalent to almost COP$7.1 billion [US$2.3 billion].

"The CGR will estimate the additional costs that will be generated in the future due to deficiencies and adverse situations that have arisen during the planning and development of the project," according to the agency.


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U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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