Energy boost

21 March 2019

Through a series of case studies, we look at how the energy sector is creating demand for heavy lifts and special transport in the USA.

Numerous onshore and offshore energy projects have recently been completed or are under construction in the USA. This has generated business for global heavy lift experts as well as local crane rental companies.

The Gulf coast has always been at the centre of the US energy sector activity. ALE has sent its 54,000tm-capacity AL.SK350 to the region, to lift a 1,2000t heater module on top of the offshore topside for an oil and gas project in Ingleside, Texas.

The AL.SK350 has been rigged with a 124m (406ft) main boom, and 49m ballast radius, along with a heavy winch system and 4,000t ballast. The installation outreach was 63.1m.

The heater module is the first of three modules ALE is contracted to lift from the yard to the offshore topside. The three modules weigh a combined total of 6,614t.

Mammoet was also recently involved in a project in the Gulf Coast, more specifically in the expansion of a refinery. Utilising several axle lines of transporters and a Liebherr LTM1400-7.1 in TY-configuration (with main boom and Y-guying system), Mammoet executed 22 transports and 19 lifts within a highly confined work area.

Due to the restricted space on site and several construction activities taking place simultaneously, the LTM1400-7.1 had to be relocated a total of five times to complete the entire lifting scope. However, the choice of the mobile hydraulic crane meant it wasn’t necessary to break down and reassemble the crane for every relocation. This meant it could install all the heavy components, including the heaviest piece weighing in at 89USt (177,500lb).

The greatest logistical challenge was transporting a flash drum weighing 66USt and measuring just over 60ft within the confined space of the refinery. The drum was transported using Mammoet’s specialised SPMT trailers and a custom-built transport frame for support. Along its route the drum encountered clearances measuring between 7–15cm (3–6in), but the SPMTs ensured the load could be safely manoeuvred with precision through the tight spaces.

Mammoet has also provided lifting services to another US energy project, Shell’s Pennsylvania Chemicals Project in Potter Township. The heavy lift specialist called this facility the first major US project of its kind to be built outside of the Gulf Coast region in 20 years.

Mammoet used its MSG80 ring crane to hoist a 2,000USt quench tower into position. The quench tower, measuring 87m (285ft) long, was erected according to plan within a twelve hour time period. It was one of the first vertical pieces to be set on site. Due to the restricted availability of space, the MSG80 was the only crane with a small enough footprint and high enough capacity to complete this crucial lift.

Additionally, Mammoet’s PTC200 DS is on site and is scheduled to complete a further 45 lifts for the project. This ring cranes has a maximum lifting capacity of 3,200t at a radius of 50m.

Once operational, the facility will boast an ethane cracker and three polyethylene units, and is expected to employ up to 600 employees.

In the USA, there is also significant investment going towards renewable energy projects. Barnhart Crane and Rigging has recently completed a six-year project at a hydroelectric power plant in Michigan.

Barnhart’s scope of work included transporting the components from the Port of New Orleans to the final destination, where Barnhart personnel staged them for replacement. The company transported one water runner per year from 2013 to 2018.

Each water runner weighed 300USt and measured 28ft in diameter and 16ft high. Each also was accompanied by a wearing ring measuring 24ft in diameter and 3ft high. Arriving by heavy lift vessel from their port of origin in Shanghai, China, the water runners and wearing rings were offloaded by ship’s gear to a hopper barge for transport to the Port of Chicago.

Barnhart used the hopper barge for movement from New Orleans to Chicago due to a 19ft-above-water-level cargo height restriction at the Lemont Bridge on Illinois’ Des Plaines River.

Using a Demag TC3000 truck crane with 138ft main boom and full superlift, the cargo was transloaded to a Barnhart deck barge at Chicago (the company maintains its own fleet of barges). Barnhart then transported the deck barge up Lake Michigan directly to the pumped storage power plant site. The components were rolled off using a 14-line single-wide PSTe Goldhofer for movement through the plant to a 410USt gantry crane, where they were offloaded and staged for replacement. The job was overseen by Barnhart’s branch office in Monroe, Michigan.

This is only a fraction of recent energy projects in the USA, but what is clear is that there is a need for high capacity machines, sometimes super heavy lift ones, in order to fulfil the requirements of many jobsites.

ALE’s AL.SK350 used to lift a 1,200t heater module in Texas
Barnhart Crane and Rigging recently completed a six-year project at a hydroelectric power plant in Michigan