Oil, Gas and Energy

Tough Cell is a cost-effective, durable, and easily installed solution for soil reinforcement and construction of sustainable access roads for the natural resources and energy industries, in any weather condition, all year round. This includes all types of roads leading to remotely located worksites, with limited accessibility and difficult terrain. All energy industries, including oil and gas, hydroelectric, and wind energy face similar challenges when it comes to creating access to work sites and remotely located resources. Energy industries often require routes over problematic soils and difficult to reach locales – from vast deserts, to mountain ranges, swamps, jungles, peat and Arctic stretches – asking for fast and reliable access solutions.

The use of Tough Cell for building access roads in energy industries allows the utilization of local, non-cohesive materials for infill, therefore overcoming the huge and costly problem of hauling graded and expensive aggregate and construction materials. By using locally available infill soils reinforced by Tough Cell, one can successfully create a more efficient jobsite and be able to conduct a successful project within budget and time constraints.

Access roads built with Tough Cell are extremely resistant to extensive traffic of very heavy rigs and machinery. By using the Tough Cell 3D cellular confinement system, with a large vertical zone of influence, non-cohesive granular material can be reinforced to provide stiffness and strength that cannot be achieved when using a 2D reinforcement method. By using a layering method, each layer’s reinforcement factor is multiplied by the improved modulus of the lower layers. Usually a single layer of Tough Cell Geocells is enough to improve the bearing capacity by creating a beam-effect. In extreme cases (e.g. CBR < 0.5%) an additional layer can be added as a sacrificial layer to help support the structure. This beam-effect acts as a semi-rigid mat, ensuring that swelling or seasonal changes, have little influence on the upper layers. In addition, the mechanical structure of the Tough Cell, along with the beam effect it creates, distributes vertical stresses evenly, minimize stress to the subgrade, minimize differential settlement and therefore enable much greater load support.

Tough Cell is the strongest and most stable geocell, maintaining its structural integrity over time – even under thermal cycling, in a wide temperature range from -60° to +60°C as well as static and cyclical loadings.

This solution is the best base reinforcement solution for oil road and gas road construction, including unpaved access roads, service and heavy-haul roads, pads, base stabilization for drilling rigs, base stations, camps, compressor stations, depots and pipeline protection.

Governments are under constant pressure to make smart financial decisions within strict budget constraints. This is a particularly challenging issue when it comes to transportation infrastructure. Maintenance costs grow year after year and are further exacerbated by cumulative backlogs in maintenance and road construction that often are not rehabilitated as planned due to budget constraints, seasonality or unexpected usage. Further on, road rehabilitation is costly, yet unavoidable, and transportation infrastructure expansions are always necessary due to increase traffic needs.

Tough Cell, a world leading geocell solution, can save valuable time and capital for all governments – municipal, provincial and federal, by constructing long lasting, sustainable roads, the heavy burden of never-ending maintenance can be diminished – leading to more satisfied constituents. With proven low maintenance needs, public roads built with Tough Cell can help municipal, provincial and federal bodies to more effectively use their limited operating budgets and continue to meet the ever-growing transportation needs of their communities.

Tough Cell, an innovative yet proven technology for road – paved or unpaved road construction, answers many of the complex challenges of modern public transportation. This high-performance geosynthetic solution ensures a quicker, cost-effective work process. These factors, coupled with sustainable and proven results, as well as the ability to build all year round, makes Tough Cell the best available road building alternative for government infrastructure decision makers today.


Cost Effective

Quick and easy installation, reduced maintenance costs throughout the project’s lifecycle, reduced layer thickness, initial construction savings with use Tough Cell reinforced local materials and the ability to quickly overcome access challenges all lead to making Tough Cell a perfect choice for building temporary and permanent access roads for energy industries


The cell structure allows the use of granular, non-cohesive local soils as infill and is sustainable even in harsh environmental conditions, including throughout high temperature ranges and heavy loads (650+ tons).


Fast and simple construction is a pinnacle advantage. Minimized logistics, enabling construction in remote locations with no need for importing expensive aggregates adds to the advantages and ease of this solution. All weather installation, all year round tops it off.

Project Example: Haul Road Construction in Canadian Permafrost for Oil Sand Mining

Mining oil sands requires very heavy machinery and the use of the world’s largest haul trucks and power shovels. Oil sands can be as deep as 40-60 meters below ground surface and after extraction are hauled to another location for processing. In spring time, the frozen top layer of the ground melts and water causes severe swelling to any road structure. When winter arrives, the water freezes again, causing distortions and further failures in the road surface. The challenge in this Canadian haul road construction project was to reinforce access roads to service CAT trucks that weigh 600+ tons GMW. (Gross Machine Operating Weight) while taking under consideration that dimensional stability under changing environment conditions including freeze-thaw thermal cycling is a must.

Tough Cell was laid in the base layer for subgrade reinforcement and to increase bearing capacity. Reclaimed bitumen process sand was used as infill and topped with a 15 cm stone wearing course. Tough Cell’s high stiffness enhanced the sands engineering value and its low CTE (Coefficient of Thermal Expansion) provided long lasting structural integrity even with subarctic temperature cycles.

Project Example: Unpaved Access Road for Pipeline in Kazakhstan Desert

Kazakh Steppe is the largest plane in the world, stretching over 800,000 Sq./Km. The task of laying pipelines across it is definitely most challenging but have important purpose- developing rich hydrocarbon resources for the central Asia-China pipeline project. Logistics of transporting heavy equipment and personnel over large distances and sand are almost impossible. KazStroyService, along with China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), looked for a solution that will increase accessibility and assist expediting the pipeline construction.

An embankment was constructed to create a separation layer between the desert sand and the road, Tough Cells were infilled with local sand and a local sand-gravel mix was used as the riding coarse. Eventually, the pavement was compacted with heavy compactors. The installation was quick and CNPC were so satisfied that they chose Tough Cell solution in other projects as well.