Extensive decommissioning programme begins at world-scale petrochemical sites

Work is underway to clear a suite of redundant assets in the North East of England, in one of the UK’s largest projects of its kind.

World-leading petrochemical firm SABIC has appointed specialist consultancy RVA Group to oversee the decommissioning, demolition and dismantling of 10 plants at its North Tees and Wilton sites.

With work having already commenced in the two locations, the multi-million pound programme is expected to be completed in 2020.

The more immediate programme involves the demolition of a Jetty, which will begin at the end of July and be cleared in eight weeks. Continued decommissioning support is being provided for a tank farm complex and RVA is also finalising the contractor selection process for the demolition of two Aromatics plants, with a proposed mobilisation date of January 2018.

Elsewhere in Wilton, the 48-week demolition of SABIC’s Olefins 5 Furnaces and neighbouring Butadiene 2 facility is already in progress and expected to be completed by the spring of 2018 and the close of 2017 respectively.

Home to some of the most iconic industrial structures in Teesside, these two sites have transformed raw oil refinery materials into an array of chemical products, for almost half a century. But this is not the end of the SABIC story in the North East, as the organisation’s Site Director (acting) Daren Smith explains: “With the two-year upgrade of our cracker plant now complete, this current multi-million pound clean-up signals the latest chapter in the creation of safe, efficient and state-of-the-art facilities that are fit for the future.”

Whilst RVA is no stranger to projects of this scale – having overseen the three largest decommissioning and dismantling projects ever executed on Jurong Island, Singapore, for instance – this is the biggest assignment the team has seen undertaken in the UK.

“The portfolio of assets being cleared as part of this extensive programme is vast,” elaborates RVA’s managing director Richard Vann. “We’re talking a range of world-scale chemical plants made up of complex structures, surrounded by live plant, in a multi-user operational site. This is an inherently demanding project but unparalleled planning has been invested to prepare for this phase of works.”

With more than 25 years’ experience in this field and having worked for six other firms on Teesside, RVA was first appointed by SABIC in 2011 to review all redundant assets on the two sites. Drones were deployed for selected areas to meticulously inspect the condition of the various structures, before a rigorous, scheduled decommissioning strategy was developed to meet the operational, isolation and budgetary needs of the client.

RVA was appointed via competitive tender to act as the decommissioning consultant, project management resource and CDM Principal Designer, for this latest phase of the project.

“Some of the elements we’re working with here, have not been in use for some time. By cleansing the site of assets that are no longer adding value – we’re paving the way for SABIC’s future operations in this industrial heartland of the UK.”

Six RVA personnel have a full-time presence on the two sites, with visiting roles from three additional senior managers. The collaborative assignment is also being carried out in conjunction with SABIC’s own project management team, plus surveyors, dismantling and demolition contractors who are being independently appointed via tender for each individual phase of work.