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The inspection of Ruhr Oel BP’s refinery in the German city of Gelsenkirchen took place as planned during the second half of last year – the largest and most extensive TÜV inspection to be held in the European refinery sector in 2018. BUCHEN and XERVON delivered a comprehensive package of services covering six different specialist areas of business and had over 1,000 operatives working on site at the plant during the shutdown.
Ruhr Oel BP operates a complex refinery business at its Horst and Scholven plants in Gelsenkirchen. Around 12 million tonnes of crude oil are processed here every year to manufacture more than 50 different types of product. The work that needs to be carried out when this refinery has to ‘make a pit stop’ is in a class of its own. Such projects involve huge numbers of facilities and plant components having to be cleaned, checked and – where necessary – repaired or replaced. Two important factors for making such projects a success are good collaboration work between all those taking part and efficiency as this means less time is needed.
Besides having its own team at the site, Ruhr Oel BP also used a large number of external specialists. More than 1,000 of these experts were provided by BUCHEN and XERVON. All in all, these two REMONDIS subsidiaries performed thousands of individual tasks involving industrial cleaning work, catalyst services, scaffolding, maintenance work, surface technology and insulation.
BUCHEN travelled to Gelsenkirchen to handle the complex industrial cleaning tasks as well as any vacuum services that were needed. A whole number of heat exchangers, columns, vessels and many other structures were either cleaned in situ or taken to a special washing area set up specifically for the TAR 2018. The reactors were emptied, cleaned, serviced and refilled by the specialists from the catalyst service division, who removed and replaced around 1,500 tonnes of catalyst material during this period.
XERVON erected around 10,000 tonnes of scaffolding material to ensure that everyone at the site was able to perform their work. At the same time, the company delivered a number of scaffolding services involving complex structures that went far beyond the standard industrial scaffolding portfolio. The company’s maintenance work included carrying out mechanical tasks in the heart of the refinery’s two plants as well as doing piping work. Just one of the jobs here was to install new pipes on a piece of equipment weighing 100 tonnes. The surface technology experts were responsible for protecting the machines and components, such as the pipes and vessels, from corrosion. This was performed either on site or at the company’s own branches in Duisburg and Bottrop. What’s more, the group’s insulation specialists were also called in to carry out a variety of jobs including completely reinsulating a reactor.
A large number of specialists and an extensive range of technologies are needed to carry out a turnaround
BUCHEN and XERVON had begun planning this project in detail months in advance. Besides organising the resources, materials and schedule, the team also had to focus on dovetailing the different processes required for the TAR 2018. A number of technical innovations were used during this project. A special automated high pressure jet cleaning system developed by the company, for example, was deployed to clean 23,000 distillation caps, saving time and making the work safer for the operatives.
Quality, time and costs are all key when it comes to performing inspections. Safety, however, is at the very top of the list. BUCHEN and XERVON’s ‘safety first’ strategies have been designed to ensure the highest standards are in place – even when facing the extreme conditions of a turnaround (tight schedules, narrow spaces, different specialists working side by side etc). BUCHEN, for example, had seven life support vehicles at Gelsenkirchen to guarantee there were maximum health and safety levels on site while the catalyst services were being carried out.
BUCHEN and XERVON had a team of over 1,000 operatives working on site at the plant during the TAR 2018
Coordination plays a vital role in projects involving a large number of different participants. This is particularly true for turnarounds as the time needed can be reduced if the individual tasks are dovetailed to fit in perfectly with one another. When BUCHEN and XERVON deliver a range of different specialist services – as was the case in Gelsenkirchen – then fewer companies need to be involved. This means decisions can be made more quickly and it promotes teamwork, creating additional advantages for everyone involved. Once again, the two companies mastered the challenges of this project, Europe’s largest refinery TÜV inspection, conscientiously and reliably as always.