Taboguilla Fuel Terminal

Client: Decal

Location: Panama

When LDD first reviewed details of a jetty extension off Panama's Pacific coast, the limited site specific ground investigation data could have presented a real challenge to our team.....

…. However LDD were able to tender and execute a complete drilled and driven pile installation service in complete confidence by offering a technically robust and flexible solution to ensure foundations were installed to specification despite the challenges of limited site data. Not only did this serve to act as a contingent installation solution, but it also offered the client savings by negating the requirement for grouted sockets.

The Project

The jetty extension was required for the expansion of Decal’s fuel bunkering facility at Taboguilla Island located in the Pacific Ocean, close to the anchorage area for vessels entering the Panama Canal.

Using our wealth of expertise and linking services within the Acteon Group, LDD set out to provide the client with a specialist Drive Drill Drive (DDD) service to deal with variable and uncertain ground conditions both efficiently and safely.

LDD’s proposed Drive Drill Drive solution resulted in significant project savings to the client. The solution eliminated the requirement for expensive ground investigation works and also reduced the client’s associated costs on material and programme by avoiding a traditional drilled and grouted pile solution.

Following a close collaboration with Decal Panama, we were able to develop a framework that ensured cost efficiency, whilst minimising all parties’ risk exposure.

The LD408 Reverse Circulation Drilling Rig was deployed in combination with an S-90 high performance hydraulic hammer and stocked up with a selection of different cutters. Use of this bespoke equipment spread in collaboration with LDD’s highly experienced and skilled operators, ensured all piles were installed to specification and within the estimated pile installation schedule.

Client quotation:

“The professional approach of LDD’s personnel and the high standard of their equipment and methods employed have been essential to our project’s success and we are really happy with their participation in the Taboguilla Works.” Mario Irastorza, Technical Director at Decal España, S.A.

Project statistics:

No of piles: 30
Pile diameter: 42” / 1056mm
Average length: 38m
Water depths: 10-12m
Tidal range: <6.3m
Driveable overburden: 8m
Average drilling depth: 11.5m
Socket depth: 3.5m
Geology: <20MPa
Average pile installation duration: <12hrs


  • LD408 – Reverse Circulation Drilling Rig
  • 36” / 914mm drill with variable under-reamer to max 48” / 1220mm
  • S90 – High Performance Hydraulic Hammer


  • Remote location
  • Limited ground investigation data
  • Expected geology to consist of hard cobbles within softer strata overburden and various competent mudstone plus Igneous intrusions to drill <20MPa
  • Central America mobilisation and demobilisation logistics

The jetty extension consisted of 30 x 38m long, 1056mm diameter piles driven into approximately 8 metres of overburden, 3.5 metres of rock and further into a 3.5 metres under-reamed socket.

12 piles were raked 1:8 from vertical, assembled in three groups of four, connected by a top support platform; providing the base for interconnecting foot bridges. A group of 18 piles raked 1:4 and 1:8 from vertical to support the mooring platform.

LDD mobilised the LD408 Reverse Circulation Drilling Rig on site, 30 minutes up the Chepo River just east of Panama City. A supervised pile installation crew was provided; consisting of a 6 man fully integrated team, highly experienced in the operation and maintenance of the complete drilling and hammer equipment spreads.

As our LDD Project Manager on-site, Lee Edwards recalls, “It’s a bit intimidating starting a project with very little ground investigation information, but we know our kit so well that with the right drilling rig and stock, we can tackle anything we come across”.

In Summary, the Drive Drill Drive service proved to be the ideal solution for the pile installation works at Taboguilla Island, and gave our client outstanding value to their operations.