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Five minutes with... Bactec

Five minutes with... Bactec Image
Article published in GeoDrilling March 2011- disposal specialist celebrates 20 years.

Bactec International is one of the world's leading explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), site investigation and mine action companies. Since 1991, it has worked on projects in more than 48 countries, clearing and verifying over 100 million m2 of land as ordnance free.

CEO Guy Lucas explains: "Our core business is to mitigate and eliminate the risk posed by ERWs (explosive remnants of war) in a timely, safe and cost-effective manner, and thus reduce the impact that they have on people's lives, infrastructure development and the environment."

Based in Kent, UK, Bactec has offices in Australia, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Mozambique. The company serves clients in the oil, gas, construction and mineral industries, as well as governments, specialist units of the MoD, the United Nations (UN), European Commission, UK Department for International Development, and NATO.

The company has extensive experience in explosive ordnance (including landmines) surveying, investigation, training, consultancy and clearance. Bactec also provides a range of services for marine
environments, for both inland waterways and offshore.

Bactec employs highly trained and qualified field operators, and maintains stringent quality standards through accreditation to ISO 9001:2008 and ISO14001. It is company policy to recruit and train local staff in the countries where it operates, thereby building a sustainable national capability.

Following a 25-year career in the British Army, and being awarded an MBE for his services to EOD and national security, Mr Lucas and his wife, Joanna, set up Bactec International in April 1991, at their home in Kent. He had identified a gap in the market to use his experience and skills.

The company's first major contract was to direct post-conflict clearance operations in Kuwait, including all of the oilfields throughout the country after the first Gulf war. The project finished in 1993, resulting in the clearance of over 147km of minefields, Kuwait City and the beaches from the city to the Saudi Arabian border.

Bactec undertook a mine-clearance programme in Angola in 1994 for the UN Development Programme. This included setting up the UN Mine Action Co-ordination Centre, the demobilisation of former military personnel, and subsequent training for humanitarian mine and EOD clearance.

In 1995, the MoD awarded Bactec a contract for the explosive ordnance land and marine survey, and subsequent clearance of Portland Naval Base, UK, and surrounding training areas. The project
lasted six months and resulted in the removal of over 130,000 items of explosive ordnance. This was, at the time, the largest commercial project awarded by the MoD.

Bactec was also involved in the first major UXB (unexploded bomb) survey in London in 1996. This was for the London Underground flood-mitigation project at Regents Canal, the River Roding and Stratford, involving both intrusive and non-intrusive survey methods.

Mr Lucas soon recognised the growing market for EOD clearance in the UK, as the construction industry increasingly moved to develop land that had been subject to WWI and WWII action. The MoD was also
beginning to make land available that was previously used for military activity. To address this requirement, Mr Lucas appointed Kevin Kneebone in 2003, now managing director of Bactec, to develop this area of the business worldwide.

Bactec's site investigation division now offers a number of geophysical technologies, both digital and analogue, for the location of buried unexploded ordnances (UXO) at construction sites,
depending on the site characteristics, type of UXO and target depth of the investigation. It also offers geophysical surveys for mineral/environmental targets.

In addition, Bactec provides a range of geotechnical drilling services using Berretta rigs, including the T41 and T44; these operate as self-contained units for site investigation and/or construction projects.
Services include coring, DTH, auger and rotary drilling, coring, the installation of monitoring wells, casing and inclinometers.

Since 2003, Bactec has seen a 250% rise in export sales. In 2008, based on growing success in this area of business, the firm
was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise for Overseas Trade. Bactec looks to develop the latest technology in new market applications, either independently or through partnerships and joint ventures.

This ethos is reflected in two successful projects undertaken in 2010: The Falkland Island Mine Clearance and the Nord Stream Sea Mine Clearance in the Baltic.
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