New motorway in Macedonia straightens the bends


In Macedonia, the verdant heart of the Balkans, narrow and winding roads hug the mountainsides making journeys by car excruciatingly slow. The situation is about to change, though, through massive investments in infrastructure.

The single largest road building project underway in Macedonia is the 57-kilometre stretch of motorway between Kicevo and Ohrid, a popular lake-side city in the southwest corner of the country. The project employs 1,200 people and 550 machines. The EUR 375 million investment project is financed by Sinohydro, a Chinese state-owned company and the main contractor of the project.

A twin-tube tunnel with two lanes in each tube will be built through the Preseka mountain, totalling four kilometres in length. Traffic will travel in one direction in each of the tubes.

To an extent, the tunnelling work will be carried out the traditional, manual way by around two to three hundred employees, while the rest of the excavation work will be handled by tunnelling jumbos. The local subcontractor for the project is Avtotehna d.o.o. Skopje, which is in charge of procurement and the maintenance of the equipment and machinery. For forepoling, Avtotehna chose Robit’s tools. The criteria for the decision were clear.

– Robit clearly outperformed its competitors in the tests. With Robit’s products, the drilling of one cross section equalling 39 holes took 30 hours in contrast with 48 hours achieved by the best competitor. There are several reasons for this: Robit’s casings are thicker, the casings’ threading is superior, and as a whole, the products are stronger and more reliable, says Vladimir Ovcarov, Manager at Avtotehna.

Robit has guaranteed a constant supply of wear parts.
– It is all about customer service. By listening to the customer and making plans together with them onsite, we are able to estimate what products and how much of them will be needed at the site over the next couple of months, and most importantly, we are also able to deliver on those needs. We dispatch a truckload of products every week, Robit’s Sales Engineer Rasmus Sokura says.

– Competition in this field is stiff. You have to be prepared for surprises and risks and be able to react quickly. We have proven from the get-go that you can always rely on Robit. We have since also managed to gain a foothold in the Balkan mining sector, Rasmus adds.

Avtotehna is also very happy with Robit.
– Our co-operation with Robit has run smoothly. They listen to our wishes and offer flexible, quick service 24/7. This is something that large, rigid organisations have not been able to provide, Vladimir says.

Deep inside the Preseka mountain, tunnelling work will continue for over a year. If the project stays on schedule, the motorway will be completed in 2018, cutting – to the delight of Macedonian motorists – the travel time between Kicevo and Ohrid in half.

• Pilot bits
• Ring bits (welded to casing)
• Extension casings and end casings
• Grouting plugs/end caps with ball valves
• Drifter shank adaptors and rods

Picture: Planning and scheduling everyday operations at the jobsite: Avtotehna d.o.o., Sinohydro and Robit.


Drilling methods / services