Facts and Figures

Gasunie Deutschland GmbH & Co.KG


Heinrich Hirdes GmbH, Hülskens Wasserbau GmbH

Elbe culvert removal

Gasunie Deutschland and Open Grid Europe are the operators of the Elbe culvert and clients for the removal. The gas culvert to be removed was laid in 1972 across the Elbe and Gasunie decommissioned it in 2015.

The removal of the culvert was performed between the island of Lühesand (Lower Saxony) and Hetlingen (Schleswig-Holstein) at Elbe river-km 648,9. The joint venture Rückbau Elbe Düker was formed for the removal work, comprising the companies Boskalis Hirdes and Hülskens Wasserbau.

The removal work began on 8 May 2015.

1,200 m of culvert to be removed from the Elbe river bed.

The culvert consists of three main pipelines connected together and the culvert pipeline is approx. 3 m below the level of the shipping channel bed.

The culvert trench has to be exposed for removal and the embankment angles of the Lühesand and Hetlingen bank areas adjusted.

From the Hetlinger side, the culvert package is pulled from over the dyke out of the river using a cable winch.

Removal of the culvert requires various technical construction techniques and the use of different floating and land-based plant, such as:

  • Suction dredger
  • Stilt-mounted pontoon with hydraulic dredger
  • Motorised hopper barge
  • Tugboat
  • Surveying vessel
  • Pile-driving machines (installed on a barge)
  • Cable winch (heavy-duty model)
  • Earthmover
  • Wheel loaded
  • etc.

After successful removal of the culvert, the original riverbed level of the Elbe and the embankment profiles of the bank areas are restored.

The removal of the culvert is performed with ongoing shipping on the Elbe

The Elbe is an important waterway with European significance. In 2014, 9,138 sea-going vessels docked in the Port of Hamburg and 146 million tonnes of goods were handled. The trend to larger, deeper sea-going vessels, which can only sail on the Elbe depending on the tide, is constantly increasing.

Consequently, shipping on the Elbe must not be affected by the removal work. Already in the planning phase we developed construction processes that allow the removal while shipping continues.