Antwerp, Belgium

ESSO Antwerp Belgium Refinery Expansion - EPC

Fluor provided design, engineering, procurement, and construction services to expand Esso's Antwerp refinery to 250,000 BPD capacity.

The project was a challenge because of a severely restricted site and the volume of equipment and site work required.

Petroleum Refinery Insulated Flexicoker Drum Construction Management
Client's Challenge

The Esso refinery expansion was the largest of its kind in Europe, yet the site was only 20 acres, which yielded severely limited workspace and significant complexity.

In addition, the exact location of subsurface pipelines and electrical cables had been obscured by 20 years of operation.

The nature of the expansion was complex, and the difficulties of linking the new construction with the existing operation were many. The magnitude of this challenging project is shown by the 3,500 tie-ins that had to be made to the existing facility.

Esso required that all construction work be subcontracted. Over 200 subcontractors were drawn from almost all of the European Economic Community countries.

Communications and cost / scheduling were major challenges because of the European location and the number of subcontractors. More than a half-dozen languages were spoken at the construction site, and in the beginning, each subcontractor was responsible for the cost and scheduling of its own work as well as any work related to it.

Petroleum Refinery Engineering
Fluor's Solution

Fluor divided the design, engineering, procurement, and construction work between offices in London and in Haarlem, The Netherlands.

The two offices also shared procurement responsibilities for 10,000 tons of pipe, 2 million meters of cable, and thousands of other pieces of equipment. The effort was supported by 150 to 200 subcontractors and had a peak labor force of 2,500. Esso and Fluor established a centralized cost and scheduling group to assist the subcontractors in monitoring project progress.

Teams of excavators and surveyors spent months ferreting out subsurface pipelines and electrical cables whose exact locations had been obscured by 20 years of refinery operations. The work paid off as crews placed 6,500 piles without disrupting refinery operations.

In addition, at one point when the complex nature of the expansion and the difficulties of linking new construction to existing operations became apparent, a Fluor design team came to the jobsite, inspected the work, and exchanged ideas with the Client to reach engineering solutions. The project was a continual challenge that required new management techniques such as these to be developed.


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Esso continued operations throughout the refinery expansion on a site where existing pipelines and cables had been obscured through years of operations. Fluor worked with Esso on issues such as cost and scheduling, for which they established a strong centralized group to provide guidance to subcontractors.

Fluor's resources in the London and Haarlem offices overcame the challenges of managing multiple subcontractors and languages; limited space; procurement of thousands of components; and the complexity of tying one refinery to another.

The joint effort proved effective in many ways, paving the way for future job-sharing opportunities between multiple Fluor offices.