I was trained as a chemical engineer and had previously worked as a chemical and process engineer within the oil and gas as well as the oil and fats industry. It was a really pleasant, exciting, adventurous and memorable journey all together. However, I rarely share my story about my small involvement in the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) aspect in my previous workplace. This is mainly because the exposure I received was minute compared to several of my colleagues who were full time project engineers, handling plant engineering and design, piling, procurement and construction tasks.
Nevertheless, I managed to observed the expansion project of the new fractionation plant situated next to my physical refinery plant. It was really interesting to witness the piling job. The planning, design and calculation was a real mystery to me. Off course all concrete beams piled under the ground have been carefully measured and position. However, I noticed that the density of the beams piled were not well distributed. I asked my project engineer friend about it and he responded that the location where there were more beams being piled are the position for the crystallizers which are heavier than other spots in the plant. That explained my initial curiosity. At certain spots, double concrete beam was planted on the ground.
There were also occasion where new upgraded crystallizers and pack columns need to be installed in the plant. This was mainly decided by the management to increase production capacity. Since the plant is crowded with equipments such as plate heat exchangers, pipelines, filter cartridges, filter bags, headers and other tanks, the only way to fix and install the crystallizers and pack columns were via the plant roof. Careful planning and coordination must be made. Heavy crane and machinery was specially rented to lift the crystallizers and pack column into the plant via the roof top. To do this, proper work platforms were employed to first temporarily remove the roof. This was then followed by the maneuvering of the crystallizers and pack columns into the plant from the work platform. Finally, after the desired equipments have been successfully positioned, the roof was fixed back to its original spot. Witnessing the overall process was really interesting and breathtaking.
I also recalled another occasion where I was asked by my superior to install new hoist in the bleaching earth store adjacent to my plant which hosted a huge twin bleaching earth silo. The hoist was going to be used to ease the process of mobilizing bleaching earth bags that weighs up to 1 tonne each. The hoist needs to be installed on the railing or the I beam already existed in the high ceiling of the store. The effort requires some civil modification so that the I beam can be used to mobilize the hoist.
Well, those were basically some of my tiny experiences in the EPC areas. Although they were not as huge as constructing an oil rig platform or a petrochemical plant, I still appreciate the experiences.
I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!
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