Fulcrum’s remit was to design and install some of the Games’ most critical gas infrastructure serving the Olympic Park, Athletes’ Village, VIP and global political leader dining areas, major sponsors’ hospitality suite, workforce dining area and the jewel in the crown, the Olympic Cauldron and its folding petals of gas flame.
Timescales around the Olympic flame infrastructure were particularly challenging. The trust and relationship built with the ODA resulted in Fulcrum being named preferred installer.
Successful delivery was crucial to the global reputations of Britain as host and the Olympic Committee as organisers.
Approval of design, installation and supervision of the Olympic Park and surrounding Village infrastructure required close consultation with a variety of unusual partner organisations – including anti-terrorism experts from Scotland Yard and national security organisations. Pipework in the wider Olympic Park was installed by a number of GIRS-accredited UIPs to designs approved by Fulcrum Pipelines Limited (FPL), who monitored construction throughout to ensure infrastructure was fit for purpose.
In addition to the main Olympic Stadium, Fulcrum installed gas connections to:
- The athletes' dining hall
- VIP and political leader dining area
- Sponsors' hospitality suite
- Workforce dining area
As an iGT, FPL upheld its statutory obligation to maintain the infrastructure and be responsible for its safety and security by making sure a fast-response technical, repair and engineering team was available 24/7 for the duration of the Games.
In the years before the Games, progress meetings were held with ODA project managers and contractors on a weekly basis. Flexibility and adaptability was crucial. Any change in the schedule of surrounding construction had knock-on effects on gas infrastructure. Changes were frequent and Fulcrum undertook a significant consultative role in managing the needs of various parties whilst ensuring that our key milestone and completion dates were achieved.
Construction involved 4km of 300mm (12”) diameter steel pipe operating at Intermediate Pressure (IP) up to 7 bar and included three underground Pressure Reduction Stations. Pipework ran across three bridges, including the Channel Tunnel rail link, and underneath main railway lines and a canal. Fulcrum engineers meticulously reviewed and approved all third party design prior to installation – ensuring total compliance with gas regulations. This involved technical consultation on everything from engineering and safety, to contaminated land, cathodic protection systems, load requirements, pressure management and legal easements.
The gas supply to two energy centres provided heat and power for the Olympic venues and was the connection point for the cauldron. We installed the pipework from the existing system to the metering equipment and the outlet pipe from the meter to a valve train controlling the Olympic Flame. The system delivered a minimum pressure of 1.99 bar. After installation, physical inspections took place over the whole duration of the project, typically involving each Fulcrum manager walking the equivalent of 40 miles. Four fully-equipped teams, experienced in all gas distribution disciplines and on-site management, provided 24 hour gas emergency cover during the Games.
Testing was both stringent and comprehensive – with the cauldron’s happening in total secrecy as part of Opening Ceremony rehearsals. To prevent a media leak, the final test took place at 2.45 a.m. just days before the games, with the Fulcrum project team on-hand throughout.
A rolling rota of Fulcrum senior managers were constantly on-hand to provide instant advice and a rapid response from an out-stationed “Olympic Office”. Fulcrum’s professional consultancy ensured the safe and correct operation of relevant infrastructure and ad-hoc operational management challenges involving other contractors. For example, some architects had build expectations outside gas safety regulations. Alternatives were negotiated to ensure compliance and safety without undermining visual aesthetics.
In addition to meeting stringent site security requirements and the needs of multiple stakeholders associated with a large project, we were presented with a number of physical challenges to deliver gas to the cauldron:
- The Olympic Stadium is located on an island, surrounded by waterways. Any river crossing had to include anti-terrorist protection measures
- The gas meter had to be placed in an unobtrusive location where it would not cause an obstruction to the many thousands of visitors to the Games
- The burner train was placed within the main stadium, requiring the supply pipe to be fixed to the underside of the stands
- As concession stands were to be erected immediately outside the stadium, pipe routes had to be carefully planned to avoid structures being built over
- The underground pipework sections were to be laid through land which had been contaminated and where remediation works had been carried out