November 2013 saw the ‘last piece of the jigsaw’ fitted neatly into place with the safe and successful completion of the refurbishment of the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit at Essar’s Stanlow Refinery in the UK.
The purpose of the revamp was to replace the regenerator cyclones, which had come to the end of their design life. As well as being responsible for developing the concept, we completed the design and oversaw the manufacture and delivery of the new regenerator head and cyclones. We also supported Essar with transportation and lifting of the new and existing equipment on site by a specialised heavy lift contractor.
Planning for the turnaround started in 2009, with the new regenerator head and cyclone assembly being delivered to site as planned on 24 March 2013. The 450-tonne unit, the world’s largest transported regenerator head and cyclone assembly, was then lifted onto another frame so that the assembly work could be completed, taking the pre-assembled unit to over 24 metres in height.
Shortly after, the construction of the ringer crane began, with the huge crane being delivered to site in over 120 containers.
The turnaround began in early October 2013. Before the new head could be installed, two sections of existing overhead line, together weighing 145 tonnes, were lifted out by the giant crane, followed by the existing regenerator head and cyclone assembly.
The new head and cyclone assembly was lifted to 70 metres above the ground and into its final position in just over three hours.
The two new regenerator overhead line sections, weighing 54 tonnes and 69 tonnes, were then successfully installed, all ahead of schedule.
To give an idea of scale, both the existing and new regenerator head and cyclone assemblies had to be skidded over 45 metres across a piperack on giant steel beams which had previously been used to raise the sunken Russian submarine, the Kursk!
The ‘seeds of success’ of this project were sown with its early start, developing the concept in pre-FEED, with our strong and experienced team then seeing the work through to site. Combining this with meticulous planning, attention to detail and what is, in our view, turnaround best practice – optimising offsite and pre-turnaround work and minimising work during the turnaround - has delivered a safe and successful outcome.
“This is another major investment in the Stanlow refinery and part of our strategic plan to ensure we can be sustainably profitable moving forward. The lift was a complicated piece of engineering and I want to pay tribute to everyone involved that it was completed safely and ahead of schedule.”
Volker Schultz, Chief Executive Officer, Essar Oil (UK) Ltd