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GrowHow Methanol Plant

At REM Engineering, while we have extensive plant-decommissioning experience of working as a principal contractor, we are also skilled in taking a supporting role as plant dismantlers, which is what we did in the following project.

The background
GrowHow is the UK’s premier fertiliser manufacturer and a major supplier to the Process Chemicals industry. In 2012, in conjunction with Sarens Crane Hire and PTS Demolition, we undertook a 28-week project for GrowHow to dismantle a complete methanol producing plant in Billingham, for packing and shipping to China.

The solution
Our role in this major project was to carry out the industrial dismantling of the plant. Based on our in-depth experience and knowledge of plant decommissioning and plant relocation, we dealt with this methanol plant from top to bottom, putting in place the plant, materials and personnel required to make sure the industrial dismantling was carried out in a logical and safe manner.

This included using five telehandlers, seven cherry pickers, two scissor lifts and various other items such as generators, plasma cutters, hot torch cutting equipment and various hand held equipment. We generally had 40-45 personnel working on the project, with around 55 at its peak.

The project took place in particularly harsh winter weather. The legal requirements concerning working at height in windy conditions meant it wasn’t always possible to use the cranes. Flexibility is key to our approach and we always look at how we can build this into a plant decommissioning programme. So, with our carefully planned project management system in place, we were able to respond to this situation and alter our schedule of jobs, making sure no time was lost as we prepared for the plant relocation.

These are brief details about the extent of the technical undertaking:

The project started with the dismantling of the reformers; work which would continue for the duration of the 28-week contract period. Running alongside this, we had ongoing works on other areas of the site. The control heaters were having enabling work carried out, which consisted of the pipework, the walkways and platform and the ancillary steelwork.

Once all the above equipment was removed, ready for the plant relocation, we opened the roof of the structure and removed the vertical and horizontal pipes, followed by the refractory brick and then the remaining structure.

Other works we carried out during the plant decommissioning included the dismantling of the main and CO2 compressor houses. We also dismantled a Fin Fan area (110m x 20m) that consisted of 12 modular sections sitting in their own structural steelwork.

The Methanol Convertor area included:

  • Four condensers each weighing 26000kg
  • One pre-heater weighing 18000kg
  • One methanol catchpot weighing 56000kg
  • The methanol convertor itself weighing 192000kg.

All these items required enabling works (pipework, steelwork and other ancillary equipment) carrying out to prepare for lifting and removal, and ready for the plant relocation.

The outcome

Using our expertise in plant decommissioning and plant relocation, we made sure all the dismantling and processing for packing and shipping was achieved on time, within the budget and, most importantly, safely, so that the plant relocation to China could take place. In fact, had the weather conditions throughout the winter months been better, the project would have come in under the contract term.

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