Caribbean heat

25 April 2008

The first vessel in one of two pairs of desalters loaded on to a pair of CHLTA's six line Goldhofers

The first vessel in one of two pairs of desalters loaded on to a pair of CHLTA's six line Goldhofers

For many people Aruba is a sunny holiday destination but it is also a place of hard work. The Caribbean island, about 20 miles northeast of Venezuela, is the location of one of Valero Energy Corporation's refineries. Valero acquired the refinery, at the most southern tip of the island, in 2004. Over the last five years the refinery has been the subject of a series of projects, to the value of US$640 million, to improve safety, reliability and profitability.

Much of the work involves heavy transport, lifting and installation, whICh keeps local specialist Caribbean Heavy Lift & Transport Aruba (CHLTA), busy. Recent investments by CHLTA, a division of Associated Transport Company (ATCO), include a 500 tonne capacity Goldhofer modular trailer and, most recently, a 500 tonne capacity computer controlled hydraulIC skidding and climb jacking system supplied by Hydrospex from the Netherlands.

One of the heaviest loads carried for the refinery was a convection section, consisting of a 100 tonne upper and a 200 tonne lower box. The loads were fragile because the refractory lining was already installed. Moving them to a temporary storage facility on site involved crossing a number of bridges on the refinery premises. A preliminary road survey, carried out by CHLTA, revealed the requirement to temporarily reinforce the structures.

Due to the dimensions of the loads, CHLTA configured a 12 axle line Goldhofer THP/SL, with a spacer bed in the middle. The trailer's hydraulIC steering allowed tight spots to be negotiated on the the route and only one fire hose reel had to be removed. Due to their fragility both sections were supported by five cross beams to prevent stress and avoid cracking the refractory lining material.

Longest loads

Four desalter vessels, each weighing almost 160 tonnes, were the longest loads carried by CHLTA. They moved the vessels from the port to the Valero refinery. The vessels arrived, two at a time, onboard a heavy lift ship. To allow the ship to discharge both vessels in one day and still leave the port that same day, CHLTA received the first vessel straight on to the trailer. Once the load was secured and moved away, the crew installed a set of four stillages and crossbeams to receive the second vessel.

In the meantime the first vessel, loaded on a pair of six line Goldhofers, each fitted with a turntable, was further secured to the turntable by welding on stoppers and clips. This additional securing of the load was required to safely negotiate a 6% incline on the route to the site. The steep climb also required the use of a wheel loader to assist the ballasted Mack tractor to pull its load to the top. Both off and on-site the long tractor and trailer combination had to negotiate a number of corners. The separate and independent steering on the rear Goldhofer enabled easy manoeuvring.

At a later stage the second pair of vessels was moved in the same way.

The flow of work continues and the refinery is involved in other projects requiring CHLTA to provide its heavy lift servICes. For this, CHLTA provided a Demag TC 1200 lattICe mobile crane and a heavy lift system in cooperation with Barnhart from the USA. •

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