As a pipeline expert, I normally inspect oil and gas pipelines, particularly in southern Germany. For two years now, however, I’ve been regularly traveling to Azerbaijan. In the country’s far west, almost 500 kilometers from the capital, Baku, a system of dams, reservoirs, pumping stations and pipelines is being constructed to irrigate 10,000 hectares of farmland. Corn and wheat will soon be growing on a high plateau that was previously nothing more than a dusty expanse. Various departments worked side-by-side for the entire project — this is the only way to successfully complete such a complex task.
Before the workers began installing the circa 30 kilometers of steel pipes and 150 kilometers of plastic piping, we reviewed the plans. Among other things we checked whether the material strength and design were appropriate for the planned water volumes. My co-workers and I are on site every few months: we verify if everything has been installed and welded correctly, whether the pipes are truly watertight and if the pumping stations are working. Some of the pipes are so large that you can stand up straight in them.
At the construction site and in conversation with the local workers, you sense how proud they are to be improving the living conditions in their country with their work. My being able to contribute makes this project a very special experience for me.