Turnkey Demolition Facilitates Clean Refinery Modernization

The Reficar refinery, first constructed in 1956 in Cartagena, Columbia, was undergoing a clean energy modernization and expansion to more than double its capacity 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 165,000 bpd. The refinery is owned and operated by Refinería de Cartagena (REFICAR), an affiliate of Ecopetrol. The overall project includes the construction of a new refinery adjacent to REFICAR's refinery in Cartagena; revamping the existing 80,000 barrel per day refinery; and relief of the regional refining constraints that will enable REFICAR to produce clean, ultra-low sulfur gasoline and diesel from heavy crude.

REFICAR contracted Deep South to complete the safe removal, demolition, and transport of old systems in parallel with the modernization effort. The removal and demolition included a fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, air blower unit, much of the polymerization unit as well as a range of exchangers, and other related systems.

“The demolition of an over 50-year-old plant on a time sensitive schedule required considerable planning and reliable, versatile equipment,” explains Fernando Gonzalez, project engineer with Deep South Crane. “The systems were large, heavy, dirty, and rusty. Every major component had to be broken down into transportable pieces. As always, crew safety was our first priority.”

The FCC unit proved particularly challenging as the complete unit was nearly 200 feet tall, 70 feet wide, and had a total equipment weight of approximately 2,170,000 pounds. Crews cut the reactor into multiple sections and then used Deep South’s patented VersaCrane™ TC-24000, a 1,500-ton compact crane designed for heavy lifts crowded and congested areas, to transport the pieces to the nearby laydown yard.

Over the course of 8 months, Deep South’s crews and local labor performed more than 100 lifts, 50 of which were critical, with the TC-24000 and other cranes including the 750-ton VersaCrane CC-9600 and the 330-ton Demag CC-1800 crawler crane.

The facility equipment removed ranged from exchangers as small as 5,000 pounds to the largest part of the reactor weighing approximately 250,000 pounds.

The Reficar refinery expansion project was commissioned in 2015.

VersaCrane™ TC-24000

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