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ExxonMobil completes heavy lift of hydrocracker tower at Rotterdam refinery

ROTTERDAM -- ExxonMobil successfully completed the heavy lift of its vacuum fractionation tower for the hydrocracker at its Rotterdam refinery this April. 

Photo Courtesy of ExxonMobil.
Photo Courtesy of ExxonMobil.

About 50 m long and, with added platforms, 11 m wide, the vacuum fractionation tower is the largest piece of equipment placed on the foundation intact. The tower is designed to separate products under reduced pressure so less energy is needed.

The tower was delivered to the refinery in October 2016. Upon arrival of the tower at a “laydown” yard, pre-dressing of the tower began. This allowed the platforms, insulation, 13 t of piping, 2 km of cable and instrumentation to be installed. 

The final dressed tower weighs about 400 t -- roughly comparable with a fully loaded Boeing 747 plane.

The tandem lift operation lifted the vacuum fractionator from horizontal to vertical position and then a crawler crane lifted the tower over a nearly 30 m tall pre-cast concrete table-top foundation to place it in position.

This milestone was preceded by the lift of the three reactors, which took place Feb. 21–25.

Once the hydrocracker expansion project is complete, the Rotterdam refinery will produce ExxonMobil’s EHCTM Group II base stocks in Europe for the first time. Production start-up is on track for late 2018.

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