Robbins is readying a 6.3m diameter EPBM to bore the first TBM-driven tunnel in Azerbaijan, for the Baku Canal Tunnels project.

In total, the project calls for 5.7km of tunnel excavation but the EPBM will be used only for a 3500m long bore on the government’s Samur-Apsheron Irrigation Project.

Last year, when the contractor Azerkorpu was preparing for the job, the plan was for the shield to drive three tunnels – 3000m, 1380m and 1360m (T&TI, September 2008, p6).

The TBM’s shield was manufactured in Guangzhou, China, where the assembly was also completed last month. The site was chosen for proximity to the central Asian country.

The main parts of the EPBM, however – the bearing, motors, gear boxes, cylinders, electric and hydraulic system – were manufactured in the US, Europe and Japan.

The cutterhead is fitted with discs, rippers and four foam injection points.

Along with the TBM, Robbins will supply the backup, tools, segment moulds and plant, rolling stock, ventilation, spares and operators to the contractor.

The shield is scheduled for a mid-year launch and the drive completed in eight to nine months.

Geology along the alignment comprises hard clay and silty sand with no groundwater.

The tunnels are to be lined with 1.5m long, 6.0m o.d. universal rings (5+1) with 300mm thick segments.

The contractor plans to use the shield on several other projects in the country.