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ExxonMobil completes fractionation tower

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

ExxonMobil successfully completed the heavy lift of its vacuum fractionation tower for the hydrocracker at its Rotterdam refinery this April. About 50 m long and, with added platforms, 11 me wide, the vacuum fractionation tower is the largest piece of equipment placed on the foundation intact. The tower is designed to separate products under reduced pressure so less energy is needed.

The tower was delivered to the refinery in October 2016. Upon arrival of the tower at a so-called ‘laydown’ yard, pre-dressing of the tower began. This allowed the platforms, insulation, 13 t of piping, 2 km of cable and instrumentation to be safely installed. The result is a heavier lift; but safety and efficiency gains were significant, eliminating work at heights (the top platform is over 60 m above the ground) and complexities associated with executing these activities in an active construction site. The final dressed tower weighs about 400 t – roughly comparable with a fully loaded Boeing 747 plane.

The tandem lift operation lifted the vacuum fractionator from horizontal to vertical position and then a crawler crane lifted the tower over a nearly 30 m tall pre-cast concrete table-top foundation to place it in position.

This impressive milestone was preceded by the lift of the three reactors, which took place February 21st – 25th. Now that the heart of the new hydrocracker has been installed, the refinery skyline has completely changed.

Once the hydrocracker expansion project is complete, the Rotterdam refinery will produce ExxonMobil’s EHCTM Group II base stocks in Europe for the first time. With production start-up on track for late 2018, this expansion will make Rotterdam a major player within ExxonMobil’s industry leading global network.

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Downstream news Oil refinery news Europe downstream news