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Along the lifeline pipeline. In any terrain. Efficiently cross under tough key sections.

Lifeline pipeline

The smart way to close the gap in key sections

Pipeline alignments run through varying topographies, through deserts, bodies of water or mountains. Even experts frequently encounter new terrain that calls for special technology. In extreme stages, Herrenknecht is at your side with innovative technology, comprehensive service and years of experience. No matter what obstacle is in your way, together we will develop the right tool. Don't be held up and get to your destination without any detours!

Steep section

  • Extreme incline over longer
    distances (up to 40 degrees)
  • Ascending and descending
  • Various geologies

Pipeline Crossing #2


When mountains, ravines or fjords get in the way, pipeline installation becomes a "steep" affair.

Val d’Astico, Italy: The Herrenknecht-rig masters a difference in altitude of 450 meters, over 900 meters between start and finish.

Limmern, Switzerland: Arriving safely. Thanks to mechanical back-up safeguards, the Gripper-TBM climbs up the steep slope of 40 degrees.

Case 1: In Val d'Astico, Northern Italy, renewable energy is to be generated from hydropower. By means of a power plant turbine, water collected from the Asiago Plateau and the Astico Valley will be used to produce electricity. The steep challenge: a difference in height of 450 meters requires a powerful, agile and light machine for boring upward to close the pipeline gap.
The solution: a 250 tonne HDD-rig (HK250T) from Herrenknecht: at up to 160 MpA and over a distance of 900 meters that includes cavities, it powerfully bores upward and builds the pipe string into the mountain. The beautiful landscape remains optimally unaffected by the underground action.

Case 2: Uphill it may be more strenuous, but for innovative tunnelling technology it is a safe alpine project. For the construction of two pressure shafts at the new Limmern pumped storage power plant in the Swiss canton of Glarus, a Herrenknecht Gripper TBM tackles a 40-degree steep drive doubly secured.
The steep hard rock project: a new, underground pumped storage plant designed to pump water from Lake Limmern back into the 630 meter higher Lake Mutt. In the event of prompt demand, the stored water will be used for electricity production. The engineering trick for a safe ascent: a sophisticated safety concept based on two mechanical back-up safeguards reliably prevents the Gripper machine from slipping back. This works mechanically on the principle of a self-locking toggle lever (automatic mechanical wedging). As a result, even in an emergency, such as a failure of the power supply and the hydraulic systems, at any time, the machine is firmly clamped in the rock mass.

Learn more:

Val ‎d`Astico Hydropower Pipeline
40 degrees uphill
Steep climb

See also:
Limmern pumped-storage power plant

Shore Approach

  • Safe for nature and environment 
  • New long-distance record (1,930 m)
  • State-of-the-art technology

Pipeline Crossing #1


Installing pipelines safely from the mainland into the seabed is something for specialists. The widest range of parameters play a role here: high water pressures, complex topographies, soils and weather conditions, absolute environmental protection is called for, which applies to the logistics too.

Anglesea Outfall Replacement Project, Australia: The pipe string is towed out to sea and pulled back to the mainland by the HDD-rig.

Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, Scotland: Innovative installation technology on the Scottish North Sea coast.

Case 1: Shortly before the start of the tourism high season, a collapsing cliff in Australian Anglesea cuts off ​​the sealink of a water treatment plant. Fast action is needed. The project environment does not make things easier. In the immediate surrounding area is not only Port Philip Bay, visited by about 4,000 ships a year, but also Point Addis, a 10 kilometer long underwater national park. Unique and sensitive coral reefs worthy of protection are not to be affected by the necessary shore-approach operation. Nothing must enter the biosystem that does not belong there.
Using a Herrenknecht HK250C HDD-rig, Australian drilling contractor Dunstans Construction Group first drills a pilot hole. After sealing, it is reamed from the rig side. The 700 meter long pipe string with a diameter of 355 mm is then towed out to sea and pulled back to the mainland by the HDD-rig. Reconnection in the shortest time: three months after the old connection is cut the new line is put into operation. There is nothing to stop Australian summer fun on the coast near Melbourne.

Case 2: As if made for the Direct Pipe® method: in very rough wind and weather on the Scottish North Sea, two 440 meter long cable conduits are installed underground between the coast and an offshore wind farm. The trick is to have the smallest possible distance between the seabed and the protective pipe. The maximum overburden is 8.3 meters. On this basis, the installed power cables can be cooled by the sea water. With the Direct Pipe® method, potential frac-outs can be safely avoided. The cool mission is crowned with successful project completion: the connection of the wind farm to the power grid operated by National Grid.

Learn more:
Speedy pipeline connection in Australia
Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm Landfall

See also:
Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm

Short river crossing

  • HDD very compact
  • Low emissions
  • Hybrid drive

Sensitive traffic hubs

  • Safely go around and under infrastructures
  • Enormous pulling forces
  • Precisely reaching the target

Inner city crossing

  • Settlement-sensitive tunnelling
  • Use in the tightest of spaces
  • Installed precisely to target

Pipeline Crossing #5


Where cities grow, supply infrastructure must grow with them. During the installation of supply pipelines, things can get quite tense. Especially when a variety of obstacles such as buildings, roads and traffic systems have to be safely crossed in densely populated urban areas with tight space constraints. For often kilometer-long drilling operations, the greatest precision is required: with the right equipment, contractors demonstrate their skills.

Crossings under railway lines require the greatest precision when installing pipelines.

Case 1: In order to maneuver with absolute precision under cramped conditions while minimizing the impact for residents, Dutch contractors A. Hak Drillcon B.V. and Visser & Smit Hanab B.V. choose Herrenknecht's Direct Pipe®-method. In the Netherlands , it is used to cross under a railway line at depths of up to 30 meters. Things move quickly: with top advance rates of up to 230 meters per day, the 1,400 meter wide section is fully completed in just 16 days. Immediate subsequent mission: the successful crossing beneath the Hartel Canal in the port of Rotterdam.

Case 2: A total of 9 obstacles make the Freeport Texas a gigantic undertaking. A very diverse obstacle course: in addition to the Dow Barge Canal, various roads, multi-track railways and a flood protection levee have to be crossed under. For contractor Michels, appropriately flexible equipment is key. To put the entire pipeline more or less effortlessly into the ground with the necessary force, a 750 tonne Pipe Thruster is connected to the 1,000 millimeter diameter AVN machine. Using the Direct Pipe®-method, this powerhouse can deliver the required thrust non-stop. As a result, the ambitious mission in a sensitive urban environment is quickly accomplished with maximum power and safety.

Learn more:

The Netherland's North-South Route

See also:
REM Directional Moves From Traditional Excavation to Directional Drilling
Direct Pipe boring Hartelkanaal Europoort

Cross-country installation

  • Up to 70% less landscape intervention
  • Semi-trenchless, single-stage, for long distances  
  • Express installation: up to 1.2 m/min.

Pipeline Crossing #6


Whether through forest, road or farmland - open, conventional pipeline installation leaves considerable marks on the landscape. This can put acceptance by the population to the test. The Pipe Express® semi-trenchless construction method offers a solution.

In use worldwide: Pipe Express in Sweden, Thailand and the Netherlands

With the development of Pipe Express®, Herrenknecht is setting new standards in pipeline installation: a tunnel boring machine loosens the soil, which is conveyed directly to the surface via an accompanying trenching unit. At the same time, the underground installation of the pipeline takes place. Earth removal work is minimized and corridor widths are reduced by up to 70%. Pipe Express® thus decreases the impact on the environment and increases acceptance among the population.
A reference project: in the Swedish capital, the drilling crew is faced with a tough task when installing a 1,036 meter section of a 48-inch water pipeline: water-saturated clay soil, with a decent groundwater level reaching to the terrain surface.  

With Herrenknecht's Pipe Express® it is possible even in this difficult terrain. Groundwater lowering is not necessary and time-consuming installation of sheet piling along the alignment is not needed. Because the pipe string goes into the ground in a single step, not only is it easier on the environment and the construction budget, but construction time is also reduced considerably. In full 12-hour shifts, 221 meters of pipeline finds its way into the soil. On average, progress is 0.70 meters per minute. After two weeks, the job is done and dusted.

Learn more:

Pipe Express®: fast installation through groundwater near Stockholm

See also:
Pipe Express® – Revolution Underground
Pipe Express®: fast installation through groundwater near Stockholm

Wide river crossing

  • Up to 2,300 m river crossing
  • 50 m installation depth
  • Highest precision at the pipeline exit

Pipeline Crossing #7


Passionate pipeline experts see a particularly skillful discipline in very wide rivers and watercourses, as crossing them requires intricate precision work over long distances. And not infrequently in uncomfortable terrain.

Hetlingen, Germany: Supreme discipline in the pipeline business: crossing rivers, as here on the banks of the Elbe

Bundaberg, Australia: Successful crossing of the Burnett River

Long distance crossings for oil and gas pipelines can extend to more than 2,000 meters. Since drilling and installation work runs under the riverbed, this can result in quite large vertical and horizontal curves. For the pipeline installer, one of the core tasks of the pending installation is to work with extreme precision from the beginning to reach the exit point and ensure maximum safety throughout the process in the heavily pressurized environment. To meet all requirements in this special discipline, Herrenknecht is doing real pioneering work with its customers.  

To expand the gas supply infrastructure in Greater Hamburg, the Elbe has to be safely crossed at a 1,500 meter wide location. During the pipe jacking process, the AVND machine from Herrenknecht (diameter 3,025 millimeters) overcomes massive boulders and sometimes very adhesive clay layers. In addition, the fluctuating tide at water pressures of up to 4 bar complicates the drive. To keep up the pace under these circumstances, the heavily worn cutting tools on the cutting wheel have to be replaced by new ones because of the arduous alignment conditions. After 4 months of precise long-distance tunnelling, celebrations are in order: the two opposite banks of the Elbe are connected by a 2,400 millimeter pipeline.  

State-of-the-art horizontal directional drilling technology is also suited for crossing wide river sections. As demonstrated in Klaipeda. In three steps the Lithuanian supply network is connected to the LPG terminal in Lithuania's largest seaport. In view of massively high frictional forces underground, it is necessary to proceed rapidly with the pipe infeed of the 8 2/4" and 28" gas pipelines with a total of 4 boreholes of different lengths. In order to cover the extraordinary distance of the longest section at 2,300 meters, 50 meters below the water surface, the contractor relies on reinforcement from Herrenknecht's powerful Pipe Thruster. The length and size of the pipelines require high push and pull forces of up to 500 tonnes. With this powerhouse, all drilling and subsequent pipe insertion is completed within the specified 18 months.

Learn more:

All Around Issue 2
Teamwork ensures swift pipe jacking under the Elbe
Powerful pipeline installation technology

See also:
TAP’s trenchless river crossings

Extreme conditions

  • Mobile in any terrain
  • Inhospitable project sites
  • Extreme temperatures

Pipeline Crossing #8


Among the most experienced pipeline builders there are those who boldly tackle more extreme missions by trusting technical expertise. Whether in hot or cold climate zones or uncomfortable, inhospitable terrain – pipeline engineers keep a cool head to reach their destination.

Icy conditions: Crawler Rig in an extreme situation

Case 1: In winter a pretty icy wind can blow in Scandinavia. When installing two sewage pipes and a drinking water pipeline in Sweden, the drilling team and the technology are facing a temperature drop to minus 20 degrees Celsius. An <<HK150C>> Crawler Rig designed for arctic temperatures is needed and accordingly equipped in Schwanau. 

The operation in water and centimeter thick ice is quite something. The 700 meter long pilot hole is completed after only two days of drilling, but then the weather changes radically: the thermometer drops by 25 degrees. A two-week battle against centimeter thick ice begins for the experts on site. Day and night, up to four boats are in action on the lake as icebreakers. The boats have to break through the ice to retrieve the cutterhead, swap it for a reamer and attach the pipeline, which is also frozen in the ice. The effort is worth it – the 28-inch line is safely installed in time for Christmas.

Case 2: In the French town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the Mediterranean, a Crawler Rig is also used, although in somewhat more pleasant temperatures. Here, the topography of the drilling location makes this crossing extreme: the drill site right next to a coastal road is very small and directly on the rocky, steeply cut coastline. Even the access to the jobsite can only be reached via very narrow, winding alleyways, no crane can help. The flexibly maneuverable caterpillar tracks of the Crawler Rig prove their worth in this endeavor too. As corals live on the seabed, various protective measures are taken. At 22 degrees the drill string penetrates steeply into the rocky stretch of coast, while the rig stands solid as a rock. The muck is removed with compressed air and by the beginning of the holiday season the job on the Côte d'Azur is done.

Learn more:


Exploration of resources

  • Entry angle from 8 to 90 degrees  
  • Up to 1,700 meters depth
  • Flexibly deployable technology

Pipeline Crossing #9


For the development of near-surface, conventional or unconventional oil and gas deposits (onshore or nearshore), entry angles from a very shallow 8 degrees to a vertical 90 degrees are required. Based on HDD technology, Herrenknecht developed the Slant Directional Drilling method (SDD). Coal seam gas or oil sands are thus made accessible at depths of up to 2,000m. SDD rigs are interesting for a number of applications.

The Herrenknecht Slant Directional Drilling Rig can be used for depths of up to 2,000 meters, as here in Russia.

Innovative machine technology: versatile rigs that drill into the ground with a 90° entry angle.

Case 1: In the Russian tundra, the innovative SDD method was used with an entry angle of 45⁰ to bring underground bitumen to the surface. In a single step it is possible to drill down quickly to 980 meters and then deflect the drill string horizontally. This allows the insertion of filter tubes into the embedded oil sand layers to then extract the oil by means of the SAGD method (Steam-assisted gravity drainage).

Case 2: For the "Greenbrothers" in Zevenbergen in the Netherlands, everything revolves around ideal conditions for growing eggplants. Heating should be as climate-friendly as possible, preferably with renewable geothermal energy. The principle is very simple: a well raises the warm water from a depth of 1,535 meters. Then, after the heat has been extracted, the cold water is pumped down a second well back into the reservoir.

See also:
VSH Zevenbergen


The classic

For fast and economical crossing under obstacles, Herrenknecht horizontal directional drilling rigs with four different base configurations are the perfect choice for any job. With excavation diameters between 0.2 and 2 meters, the variants offer pulling forces between 60 and 600 tonnes.

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Direct Pipe®

The multitalent

With drive lengths of up to over 1,500 meters, Direct Pipe® combines the advantages of microtunnelling and horizontal directional drilling technology so it can be used in all geologies. In just one step, the borehole is created and the pipeline pulled in.

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E-Power Pipe®

The efficient one

Thanks to innovative control and navigation systems, a jet pump for muck removal and an integrated hydraulic power unit, E-Power Pipe® enables over 1,000 meter long drives with small diameters and low overburdens.

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Downhole Tools

The game changer

A revolution in HDD. Three innovative drilling tools lead to the desired diameter in just one step: the Full Face Hole Opener, the Downhole Jet Pump and the Weeper Sub.

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The all-rounder

With the help of AVN machines, conduits for the subsequent installation of pipelines can be created safely even in difficult geologies and on long crossings of over 1,000 meters – both in segmental lining and pipe jacking, in all geologies and with diameters of up to 4 meters.

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Pipe Thruster

The powerhouse

Support for pipeline installation is provided by the Pipe Thruster with push and pull forces of up to 750 tonnes. The Pipe Thruster sets new standards and is at the same time power reserve and rescue tool. On the way to even longer pipelines with large diameters or in difficult geologies.

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Pipe Express

The multitasker

For the semi-trenchless installation of pipelines, the newly developed Pipe Express® technology needs only a narrow corridor for the alignment and without lowering groundwater. With lengths of up to 2,000 meters and diameters between 900 and 1,500 millimeters, Pipe Express® can reduce corridor width by up to 70%.

learn more
Auger boring machine

The compact one

With diameters ranging from 0.1 to 1.4 meters over distances of up to 120 meters, the auger boring machine is based on a simple and clever principle: the auger transfers the torque from the drive to the cutterhead and simultaneously removes the excavated material.

learn more

The flexible one

With entry angles between 8° and 90°, Slant Directional Drilling rigs (SDD) combine the strengths of horizontal and vertical drilling technology to safely and efficiently tap near-surface raw materials up to a maximum depth of 2,000 meters.

learn more


kilometers of pipelines are installed every year using Herrenknecht tools

German Engineering

High product quality is the basis for everything at Herrenknecht. Concentrated expertise of German Engineering in over 80 locations worldwide.


Broad service portfolio from planning to drive. Customer care you can count on.

Hand in Hand

No such thing as can't be done. Thanks to our know-how, we can also develop new technology for unsolved problems and make your project a success.

Your direct contact



Simon Herrenknecht

Head of Business Division Pipeline


Peter Schmäh

Member of the Executive Board | Business Unit Utility Tunnelling


Uwe Breig

Head of Sales (East) | Business Unit Utility Tunnelling