Challenges for new capital projects at existing refineries usually include permitting, below-ground constructability, waste soil management, and health and safety.
Permitting can be a critical path issue, and should be initiated as early as possible in the project design, during pre-permitting meetings with the regulators. Identification of regulatory jurisdictions early in the planning stages can provide valuable information in siting new facilities. Shoehorning in a new piece of equipment at the refinery requires an in-depth understanding of the subsurface conditions. This includes identifying utilities and environmental hazards and taking appropriate safety considerations. The geo-environmental approach works best where the geotechnical and the environmental borings are combined, meaning the holistic solution to the installation of the foundation involves both geotechnical and environmental considerations.
Understanding the constraints of utilities, the potential shoring of utilities, and the handling of the waste soils during construction is critical at the early stages of design development, and may influence selection of foundation type. The requirements for dewatering, the treatment of the water (whether it can be discharged under the existing permit to the refinery wastewater treatment system), potential migration of existing plumes, and the health and safety issues are all items that require consideration during design. Ultimately, the design requires a detailed constructability review to confirm that all safety, environmental, risk and engineering issues are covered prior to the completion of the final design.
Answer provided by Rory Johnston, PE, BCEE, Principal
Rory’s consulting career spans almost 30 years, ranging from geotechnical engineering on large industrial projects to environmental investigation and remediation. At Langan, a key part of his role as a Principal is to lead major projects in various market sectors, with an emphasis on oil and gas projects.