At a time when innovation is so important, OCU Group (OCU) is driving change within the water sector with its cutting-edge trenchless solutions.

OCU Group is one of the UK’s fastest growing utilities and energy-transition specialists and has worked with the water sector’s leading players for over two decades. This time has seen significant innovation, with Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) emerging as a major game-changer for the water sector during this period.

HDD is a trenchless alternative to traditional open-cut methodology. It requires the ground to be broken at two carefully planned, remote points, where a drilling rig can directionally bore and install pipes up to 1,400mm in diameter and over 3,000m in length. This is a cost-effective alternative that can be used for installing and maintaining water pipes and wells under roads, railways, contaminated land, environmentally sensitive sites, canals, rivers and other waterways.

Revolutionising Water Engineering

OCU, pioneering HDD since 2003, owns and operates a twelve-strong rig fleet (ranging from 20 to 400 tonnes) and was the first business to achieve accreditation under the Lloyd’s registration scheme for Trenchless Technology.

The UK water sector, serving 25 million customers, faces challenges of aging infrastructure and increasing demand. Dwr Cymru Welsh Water enlisted OCU and their 100-tonne rig to replace twin mains in a century-old tunnel beneath the River Dee in Deeside, averting potential community-wide water supply disruptions. The project, crucial for accommodating future demand and addressing environmental concerns in the Garden City area, navigated challenges posed by industrial heritage, contamination and environmentally sensitive salt marshes. The use of custom-made Barrier Pipes, alongside trenchless technology, developed traditional methods, ensuring a reliable and environmentally conscious water supply for customers in the vicinity.

“OCU are proud to be a business that provides solutions and thinks outside of the box. We have always been a delivery-based contractor first and foremost and our key goal is to get the job done for our clients with the desired outcomes.” said Mark Rogers, OCU Regional Director.

Excellence in Water Infrastructure

OCU’s HDD expertise also played a crucial role in the success of the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project. The project, undertaken by Irish Water, involved the installation of two 500mm OD SDR9 estuary crossing pipelines, each approximately 1.1km in length and positioned under the River Lee estuary. This innovative technique allowed for precise and efficient pipeline placement, addressing the challenging estuary environment. HDD facilitated the project’s goals, including compliance with environmental directives, the establishment of a reliable sewage collection network, and the overall improvement of wastewater infrastructure in the targeted areas. The use of HDD contributed significantly to the project’s completion, ensuring accuracy, and minimizing environmental impact.

As the water sector faces evolving challenges, OCU’s innovative solutions, illustrated by HDD technology, continue to shape a sustainable and resilient future for water infrastructure projects.

About OCU Group

OCU is an innovative business in the utilities and energy industries; operating on a national scale. The Group delivers a wide range of customer-focused business solutions throughout the UK and Ireland, working with a large blue-chip client base in all utility areas including; Power, Energy Transition, Telecoms, Water & Wastewater, Rail and Trenchless.

In August 2022, OCU was acquired by Triton Partners, one of Europe’s leading private equity firms. Triton operates from 12 offices across the world with their current portfolio of companies having combined annual revenues of over €18bn.