Earlier in 2013 Essar Energy’s Stanlow oil refinery took delivery of a 450 tonne catalytic cracker unit. It was one of the largest loads to have been moved along UK roads for many years.
The 18 metre tall, 450 tonne load was transported from Ellesmere Port docks on the north west coast of England to the refinery using self propelled modular transporter (SPMT). The SPMT was made up of 30 axles lines, four files wide. Combined with the cargo, the gross weight of the transport was 700 tonnes.
For part of the journey the cargo was moved along the M53, an 18.9 mile motorway on the Wirral Peninsula. Along that road 16 motorway lights had to have their lamps removed as they where preventing forward progress of the load.
Once off the motorway steady progress was made as preparations, including tree pruning, had been previously carried out. It took six hours for the transport to cover the four mile (6.5 km) journey to the refinery.
The unit is part of a five year project to exchange the head unit of the residue cat cracker. It is the largest in Europe and will enable the refinery to process the poorest parts of crude oil into diesel.
Stanlow oil refinery covers 1,900 acres and is situated on the southern bank of the Manchester Ship Canal. It is the second largest refinery in the UK and has a refining capability of 12 million tonnes a year and is capable of producing 296,000 barrels a day. Fawley refinery is the largest in the UK and has the capability of producing 330,000 barrels a day.
Up until 2011, Stanlow refinery was owned by Shell. The company sold the refinery to Essar for an estimated UK£ 814 million (US$ 1 billion). Essar has a £250 million ($360 million) expansion plan, which includes site expansion and an output increase by 25 %, with the production of diesel and aviation fuel to be increased.