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IADC’s Dredging Seminar held in Panama in April for the First Time

Attendees gather at table meeting at the workshop, preparing the tender for a dredging and landfill project. Each group represented a different dredging company.

Attendees gather at table meeting at the workshop, preparing the tender for a dredging and landfill project. Each group represented a different dredging company.

The International Association of Dredging Companies (IADC), with the support of the Organization of American States-Inter-American Committee on Ports (OAS-CIP) and other interested parties, held its Seminar on Dredging and Land Reclamation at the Hotel Riu Plaza in Panama City, Panama from April 11 to 15. This was the first time the seminar was held in Panama, and the demand was clear. The seminar drew a full house of 33 participants from a variety of countries and organizations.

Participants hailed not only from Panama itself but from other parts of Latin America – Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Suriname, Brazil and Peru as well as from Europe – the Netherlands and Germany – and from Africa – Mozambique and the Ivory Coast. They represented a range of maritime related professions, including engineers, managers and legal consultants from dredging-related companies, such as Damen, Royal IHC, Cater-pillar, Hutchison Port Holdings, Woll Corp., as well as many governmental maritime agencies and port authorities, such as the Port Authority of Panama and Costa Rica, and Mexico’s Secretariat for Communications and Transportation. 

The group at the site visit at Punta Pacifica II, artificial islands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panama City.

The IADC seminar has been conducted annually for more than twenty years since 1993 and has been presented in co-operation with local universities and other associations worldwide: in the Netherlands, Singapore, Dubai, Argentina, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Brazil and most recently Indonesia to name a few. 

This was the first venture into Panama. The appeal of Panama as a location was compelling. Major dredging works have been going on there for the last decade, including the dramatic expansion of the Panama Canal, the new locks at both the Atlantic and Pacific entrances and the newly reclaimed islands of Punta Pacifica, off the coast of Panama City. Such interest in and demand for more knowledge about dredging is no surprise given that these economic drivers affect many countries in the region. Expectations are that by 2025 the expansion of the canal will triple its container traffic over the base year 2005. 

A visit to the rock loading facility in Vacamonte. The rock is then transported to the building site of Punta Pacifica.

The aim of the seminar is to educate clients and consultants about some of the essential factors at play when a dredging project is planned. The format of the seminar combines classroom lectures and workshops with a site visit to an ac-tive dredging project. These lectures and work-shops have been created by professionals from the major dredging companies, some of whom then lead the seminar. The knowledge and hands-on experience of these experts give extra value to the classroom lessons. In Panama, the lecturers were: 

• Pieter den Ridder, deputy manager of the Production and Soil Department at Boskalis who is responsible for all production estimates for tender submissions in Middle and South America. 

• Maarten Dewint, tender engineer at Jan De Nul’s offices in Belgium, in the Tender-Procurement Department (International Division), responsible for the price calculation of major dredging and maritime projects globally.

• Marcel van den Heuvel, supervisor of the Geology Group within the Engineering and Estimating Department of Van Oord. Since 2009, he has specialized in Water Injection Dredging (WID) Techniques and since 2012, he has been developing internal knowledge on Offshore Mining and assessing Offshore Mining projects on feasibility. 

• Luk Verstraelen, senior engineering manager in the Research, Method, Production and Engineering (RMPE) Department of DEME NV, who manages various project engineering teams, both in tender preparation works as well as in project execution related issues. 

 At the start of the program, each participant received a binder with the comprehensive coursework, in which the basic dredging subjects are outlined: the development of new ports and maintenance of existing ports; project phasing; descriptions of types of dredging equipment; project costs; and types of dredging projects. During the week, the lecturers follow this format giving in-depth descriptions.

Mid-week, while the lectures continued, the tangible test began, where the lessons were applied. The 33 participants were divided into teams and given an assignment to prepare a dredging and landfill project for a client, the ‘Honduran Port Authority.’ Each team represented a ‘foreign’ dredging company and had to study the project from its allocated office. The lecturers explained the different types of con-tracts, risks, permits and licenses and essential subjects, such as the need for surveying and monitoring, were stressed. At an official pre-bid meeting, the teams raised their last questions to the client.

Though the classroom lectures are intensive, activities outside the classroom were equally stimulating. On-site visits took place at a rock loading facility in Vacamonte, where rock is collected for construction of the Punta Pacifica artificial islands in the Pacific Ocean off the densely populated shoreline of Panama City. The second site visit was to the Punta Pacifica islands themselves, guided by Boskalis veteran Bernard Bezemer. Nine hectares (22 acres) of land are being created by using approximately 600,000 cubic meters (784,700 cubic yards) of rock to form a perimeter and filling it with 1.3 million cubic meters (1.69 million cubic yards) of sand. This second island now under construction will be attached by a bridge to the first residential is-land, which was completed in early 2013. The 55 million ($72 million) land reclamation began in the second half of 2015 and is expected to be finished in 2017. This is a first-hand example of the power of dredging to contribute to a coun-try’s economic well-being by building residential properties.

Another special event was a dinner where participants were introduced to a group of IADC company representatives, regional and project managers from Boskalis, DEME, Jan De Nul and Van Oord. Good food and drink encouraged networking in an informal atmosphere.

On the last day of the seminar, with the results of their studies and fact-finding, each team finalized its optimum working method for the ‘Honduran’ dredging project and submitted their bids – within a strictly stipulated time-frame. The bidding results were evaluated by the lecturers and at last, the contract was awarded to the team with the best technical solution and the lowest price. 

The winners were Team Centre comprised of Ana Kristin Villareal Gil, engineer; Jadelin Bustavino V.; Melita Chin; Milciades Alexis Andríon Garibaldo, engineer; Ollincuauhtlli Méndez Ramirez, engineer; and Rigel Hernandez Ortega. Each member of the team received the recently published photographic book Beyond Sand and Sea, a compilation of fifty years of dredging projects.

For participation, each ‘student’ was awarded a Certificate of Achievement in recognition of the completion of the coursework. And then it was farewell to new friends and back to work at their respective offices, fortified with a deeper knowledge of dredging. 

The next IADC Seminar on Dredging and Land Reclamation will be held June from 20 to 24 at UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands. The fee for the week-long seminar is £3,100 –(inclusive VAT). The fee includes all tuition, seminar proceedings, workshops and the special partici-pants’ dinner, but excludes travel costs and accommodations.

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