Mammoet was recently contracted to transport and install a new 400-ton cracking column at CEPSA’s La Rábida oil refinery in southern Spain. Mammoet transported the cracking column from the port to the site and installed it, overcoming complex regulatory and logistical challenges to complete the project in just four days.

As part of a major upgrade to the refinery’s hydrocracking unit, the new cracking column had been manufactured in and transported from India to the port of Huelva in Spain. PRISM Logistics was responsible for the transport to the refinery via land and sea. They approached Mammoet to assist with the land transit in Spain, as Mammoet’s logistics expertise could allow them to effectively deal with the complex Spanish transport regulations.

Mammoet and his local partners have a longstanding relationship with Spanish transport authorities and police. This, combined with the global logistics experience, including the effective handling of local transport permits, contributed to the smooth and efficient on-time delivery. Mammoet transported the column on a 24 axle single line SPMT in only two hours from the port of Huelva to the refinery, using a combination of police and private escorts. No roads were closed during this transport and there was a minimal disruption to the local community.

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According to Mammoet Spain Branch Manager, Rafael Martinez: “Timing was an important factor during this project. With every hour of outage costing our client a small fortune it was essential that we executed the plan on schedule. Using public roads for the transit required two months of intensive communication with three major Spanish transport ministries, agencies and police to ensure that there were no delays on the cracking column’s escorted journey from port to refinery.”

Once the column’s transport was successfully completed, the next stage was its installation. Rafael explains: “The site was heavily congested, which made both the transport and installation challenging. Due to the lack of space, we were unable to use the standard crane for a lift of this size. The positioning of critical pipework within the lift site meant that it wasn’t possible for a superlift or a backmast to be used, dramatically reducing the available lifting capacity. We overcame this using a LR11350 Crawler Crane with a 340-ton central counterweight. This meant the necessary capacity could be obtained without additional space to perform the lift.”

The team tailed the reactor by attaching the base of the column to the reconfigured SPMTs used in the port transit using an in-house tailing frame. This allowed the 60-meter boom to successfully up-end the column and assist the CEPSA mechanical team with its alignment and installation. Rafael concludes: “Despite the engineering challenges, we completed the transport and installation process within the schedule. As a result the overall plant upgrade was not impacted, ensuring to upgrade stayed on track with minimal downtime for the plant.”

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