Ongoing major projects and organic growth helped push consultant Pöyry’s revenues from tunnelling activities up by 7% to about US$45M in the financial year to December 2006, T&TI was told. Operating profits were not disclosed.

Outline details of the group’s tunnelling performance follow Pöyry’s recent announcements of contracts in Berlin from DB ProjektBau worth US$3.9M that include technical reviews of a new tunnel and two other rail links during 2008, and US$4.4M in metro-related assignments due to be carried out this year in Ecuador, Chile and Venezuela.

Also in Latin America, late last year the group was awarded design contracts worth a total of almost US$2M for hydropower projects in Peru and Chile for the Santa Rita and Coya schemes, respectively.

Over the last few years tunnelling work has been fairly evenly spread between transportation and hydropower projects, T&TI was told by Andy Goodwin who heads the company’s tunnelling services. Pöyry’s tunnelling activities exist within the international group’s matrix organisational structure and serve both the transportation and energy projects won through two different business groups – Infrastructure & Environment (I&E) and Energy.

While Pöyry declined to disclose its operating earnings for tunnelling activities nor the contribution to revenues in I&E and Energy, Goodwin said that the balance of revenues from tunnelling in each business group was relatively stable and growth was mostly organic.

Looking ahead, Goodwin told T&TI that besides normal work in road, rail and water-related projects, the company would be pursuing two major initiatives in the next two years or so: increased safety requirements in road and rail tunnels, and the high-speed passenger rail links planned in China, which call for a significant amount of tunnel design and supervision.

Further ahead, the major trans-Andes tunnelling projects to open up the Atlantic and inland Latin America to the Pacific would be an area of interest, he noted.

Pöyry posted improved overall results for both I&E and Energy business groups. Operating profits for I&E increased 6.4% to US$16.8M on net sales up 22% to almost US$261M. The improvements were relatively greater in Energy, with earnings up 7.4% to US$18.9M on net sales 23% higher at US$254M.

The group said demand for I&E services strengthened last year and the value of local presence became more important for project development in all market areas. In Energy, high oil prices saw more attention being put by clients and investors to alternative sources of energy, and ongoing market restructuring added to competitive pressures between energy resources.

Order stock for I&E business group increased in the year by almost a fifth to US$245M, including US$47M in total from rail projects in Venezuela and a high-speed rail link in China. In Energy, the business group also has three other new hydropower assignments worth almost US$35M in total for projects in Austria, Laos and Scotland. Order stock nudged 5% higher to nearly US$265M.

The revenue benefits of major, ongoing tunnelling-based projects are an important aspect of the order stock, and have helped underpin the steady rise in group revenues.

Goodwin said such projects include AlpTransit, the N20 bypass at Zurich, the new central rail line to Zurich main station, the Kunming water transfer project in China, the Kárahnjúkar hydropower scheme in Iceland, and the Nam Ngum II hydropower scheme in Laos.

At group level, Pöyry reported operating profits up 8% to nearly US$64.7M on consolidated net sales 19% higher at US$805M.