Shell Moerdijk called on Bilfinger’s new expertise for the rapid and efficient inspection of its T-jetty – and also benefited from significant financial savings. This inspection work is part of a special Shell programme focused on the prevention of corrosion. The use of rope access together with supplementary inspection expertise yielded considerable benefits.
Bilfinger, in its role as a permanent scaffolding, insulation, painting and steam tracing contractor, always has hundreds of employees at work on the maintenance of the Shell plants and installations. This Shell plant, which produces chemical products from mineral oil, is one of the largest chemicals complexes in both the Netherlands and Europe. The base chemicals and products are delivered and dispatched by pipeline, by train, by truck and by sea. Shell Moerdijk has what is referred to as a ‘T-jetty’ for vessels calling at the plant, a loading/unloading jetty that is equipped with pipelines for different chemical products which can be coupled to the vessels’ tanks.
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Shell, in the context of its large-scale maintenance programme, required an inspection of the condition of all the pipelines and their supports on its loading/unloading jetty, the T-jetty. This made it necessary to gain access to the T-jetty. Erecting a scaffold around the jetty would be time-consuming and complicated due to the limited amount of space available. Scaffolding would also impose a significant extra wind load on the T-jetty, and implementing measures to reduce this load would make the scaffold very expensive. Moreover, the results from the inspections needed to be available very quickly. In addition, extra assistance was requested for the inspections.
The rope access technicians of Bilfinger Height Specialists were deployed for this specific task. We gave our technicians additional training in carrying out thorough visual inspections. We also provided supplementary services for the inspection reports in conformance with the requirements of the Shell system.
Benefits in this project
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Normal practice would be to erect a substantial scaffold so that the jetty can be inspected from up close. However, a number of specific aspects make this location so special. Kees Krijnen (Maintenance supervisor external corrosion Shell Moerdijk) explains that ‘vessels moor throughout the day, so the jetty must provide ready, rapid and safe access to the auxiliary services and Customs. There is a limited amount of space on and around the T-jetty. Erecting scaffolding around it would take up a lot of the space and there would be an even smaller amount of space available. It would also be necessary to take account of a significantly increased wind load on the T-jetty, due to its location over the Hollands Diep river. We’d already tried using a camera to carry out a remote inspection of the jetty, but it didn’t provide the results we wanted.’
Avoiding the need to erect scaffolding around the entire T-jetty to carry out the inspections saves us a great deal of time and budget
‘We asked Bilfinger to help us and come up with a solution’, says Krijnen. ‘Bilfinger proposed using rope access, a method based on the use of rope, climbing techniques and safety equipment to work safely at heights without needing to erect a scaffold. Bilfinger gave their rope access technicians additional training in the inspection work. In addition, Bilfinger trained an employee of another contractor so they would be able to carry out non-destructive testing at locations where this was necessary. Bilfinger also has the in-house expertise required to identify CUI. They cooperated with our inspection department in sharing their findings and data in our system. In so doing, they assist our inspectors and we now know precisely where we will need to carry out repair work later this year.’
Kees sees that this approach offers great benefits. ‘Avoiding the need to erect scaffolding around the entire T-jetty to carry out the inspections saves us a great amount of maintenance budget. Moreover, we can carry out everything much quicker: I think that we save at least four months’ time.’ Furthermore, Shell Moerdijk now has just one contact point for all this work. ‘Obviously, Bilfinger also benefits’, Kees continues. ‘By offering increasingly broader services, they are more frequently awarded the whole assignment. I think that involving Bilfinger Height Specialists and Bilfinger NDT Services was a wise move. We’ve learnt some useful lessons from these experiences. We’re certainly going to make more frequent use of rope access, especially at locations where a regular scaffold would be a great obstruction. I’m pleased to see Bilfinger making increasing use of innovations.’
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