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.