ISTANBUL — Tekfen Holding A.S. (IST: TKFEN), a leading conglomerate in the engineering, contracting and agriculture industries, today announced a partnership and investment in Petra, the first undergrounding company using autonomous systems to bury critical utilities with robots capable of boring the hardest geologies in the world.
Tekfen Construction, the flagship company of Tekfen Holding, is renowned for the construction of large-scale projects—ranging from pipelines, power plants, industrial facilities, highways, railways, oil and gas terminals, tank farms, marine oil platforms, pumping and compressor stations, stadiums and high-rise buildings. Tekfen will implement Petra’s unique undergrounding technology into future construction, as well as grow their utility infrastructure business offerings. Together, they will utilize Petra’s technology in extreme environments where Tekfen Construction operates—European mountains, Middle Eastern deserts, and deep below existing urban infrastructure across EMEA—as well as explore new frontiers where Petra now makes undergrounding projects possible.
Petra’s undergrounding technology bores utility-sized tunnels through previously impenetrable geologies, making new projects possible in extreme environments. Petra provides engineers, contractors, and owners peace of mind by arming them with an undergrounding tool that successfully tackles nightmare geologies and changing ground conditions. Petra’s undergrounding machinery is equipped with remote operability, increasing safety measures on the job site.
In phase one of the partnership, Petra and Tekfen Construction will complete a 100-foot pilot tunnel in North American hard rock geologies that are substantially similar to Tekfen Construction’s traditional service area. Tekfen Construction will provide Petra with specifications of their typical pipeline projects and help inform Petra’s development of a trenchless method that can bore through mixed conditions, both hard rock and softer soils. The partnership will focus on developing projects which uniquely showcase the benefits and capabilities of the Petra technology, specifically focusing on opportunities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and CIS countries.
“Petra’s one-of-a-kind tunnel boring technology will bring multiple benefits for the Company,” said Mustafa Kopuz, President of Tekfen Construction. “Time is always a principal component of our responsibilities towards our clients in the projects we undertake. “Difficult geographical and geological conditions are critical factors that affect our projects most adversely by interrupting project timelines, thus seriously affecting our costs. Petra will considerably shorten our drilling timelines. In addition to benefiting our future projects we are also excited to collaborate with the company to leverage Petra’s unique competitive advantage to pave the way towards new segments of the business.”
Petra created the first non-contact, thermal-drilling robot that can uniquely bore trenchless utility installations less than 72 inches in diameter through hard rocks. This makes it possible for Petra to bore utility tunnels through previously impenetrable geologies. Petra’s customers can rapidly bury critical utilities for a fraction of the cost of legacy techniques. Conventional microtunneling machines are purpose-built for a single diameter. By contrast, Petra is capable of boring a range of diameters between 18-72 inches, dramatically reducing the costs of tunneling and is designed to minimize downtime. The boring unit can be completely reversed, through the carrier pipe, to the inlet at any time during the operation, enabling system maintenance and cutterhead rescue.
“The world needs new undergrounding tools that are smart enough to handle changing ground conditions at various diameters through a variety of geologies,” said Petra CEO Kim Abrams. “Partnering with Tekfen Holding on some of the largest utility projects around the world will ensure communities have access to quality infrastructure that can be delivered economically to more places throughout the world.”
“Tekfen Construction’s success requires staying ahead of construction innovation—both in technology and new project opportunities—and Petra represents a novel way to innovate in both domains,” said Sinan Uzan, Tekfen Ventures’ President. “With more infrastructure safely underground, we can now envision new uses for the reclaimed above-ground land, including preserving biodiversity along with rights of way. Petra’s non-contact technology promises to lead the next wave of innovation for infrastructure construction at Tekfen and beyond. This kind of direct investment in a complementary US-based technology that is scalable worldwide represents a new path for the investment arm and we look forward to what’s possible working together.”