Cranes perform "surgery" on natural gas treatment plant

02 December 2016

Martin Scheffler from Hüffermann, acting as marshal, reports the position of the attachment equipmen

Martin Scheffler from Hüffermann, acting as marshal, reports the position of the attachment equipment to the crane driver by radio

Crane rental company Hüffermann Krandienst chose a Liebherr LTM 1500-8.1 to help erect a refurbished gas flare at a height of around 100 metres at the ExxonMobil natural gas treatment plant in Grossenkneten, Germany.

In addition to the large eight-axle wheeled mobile telescopic crane, two additional Liebherr mobile cranes were used for the setup and adjustment work.

The plant is around 40 kilometres to the west of Bremen and is designed to purify and treat the natural gas before it can be used. As for all ExxonMobil plants, the safety requirements for working on the site in Grossenkneten are very high. Gas detectors and protective filters are mandatory for everybody as are generous lifting capacity reserves for crane work.

In normal conditions, the assembly work on the gas flare supervised by Euro-Rigging could have been completed using a smaller mobile crane. Since, however, 25 percent more lifting capacity must be available in reserve, the 500 tonne Liebherr was the machine of choice for Hüffermann’s project manager Klaus Flege.

The capacity of the plant had been reduced for the duration of the crane work for safety reasons and a large area around the site had been cordoned off.

The crane specialists from Hüffermann were well acquainted to working in these unusual conditions since several weeks earlier the 45-year-old flare pipe had been dismantled for refurbishment.

Assembled with a hook height of around 100 m, the LTM 1500-8.1 working with an LTM 1250-5.1 initially hoisted the 22 m pipe off a low loader. After turning it vertically and fitting several plant parts to the flare pipe, the mobile crane then hoisted the 16 tonne load. The critical point in the hoist was threading the flare pipe through a narrow scaffold frame at a height of around 60 m to get it onto the flange below.

The rest of the work was simply professional routine for the Hüffermann team led by crane supervisor Martin Scheffler. The gas flare was then completed by installing the 2.8 tonne flare head and the job was finished.

Hans-Ulrich Pape, shutdown manager and the ExxonMobil employee responsible for the project, said, “Hüffermann did some great work in a calm atmosphere. That and the high crane reserves are very important to us because this is almost like open-heart surgery for us. And one of the really impressive things was the quality of the equipment used by Hüffermann – all new cranes."

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