12/01/2016 Safety first – "Open-heart surgery" on a natural gas treatment plant

  • Liebherr LTM 1500-8.1 mobile crane replaces refurbished gas flare in natural gas treatment plant
  • Hüffermann Krandienst meets the customer's highest safety specifications with plenty of lifting capacity in reserve
  • Powerful crane fleet with more than 40 Liebherr mobile cranes

A job carried out by an LTM 1500-8.1 operated by Hüffermann Krandienst in Northern Germany featured a high level of safety precautions. A refurbished gas flare had to be erected at a height of around 100 metres at the ExxonMobil natural gas treatment plant in Grossenkneten. In addition to the large eight-axle crane, two additional Liebherr mobile cranes were used for the setup and adjustment work.

The 22-metre flare pipe is placed on the sub-structure by the LTM 1500-8.1 with a hook height of around 100 metres.

The 22-metre flare pipe is placed on the sub-structure by the LTM 1500-8.1 with a hook height of around 100 metres.

The plant is located around 40 kilometres to the west of Bremen and is designed to purify and treat the natural gas before it can be used. As for all ExxonMobil plants, the safety requirements for working on the site in Grossenkneten are very high. Gas detectors and protective filters are mandatory for everybody as are generous lifting capacity reserves for crane work. In normal conditions, the assembly work on the gas flare supervised by Euro-Rigging could have been completed using a smaller mobile crane. Since, however, 25 percent more lifting capacity must be available in reserve, the 500-tonne Liebherr mobile crane was the machine of choice for Hüffermann's Project Manager Klaus Flege.

The capacity of the plant had been reduced for the duration of the crane work for safety reasons and a large area around the site had been cordoned off.

The crane specialists from Hüffermann were well acquainted to working in these unusual conditions since several weeks earlier the 45-year-old flare pipe had been dismantled as it required refurbishment.

The LTM 1500-8.1 and LTM 1250-5.1 in a tandem lift.

The LTM 1500-8.1 and LTM 1250-5.1 in a tandem lift.

Assembled with a hook height of around 100 metres, the LTM 1500-8.1 working together with an LTM 1250-5.1 initially hoisted the 22-metre pipe off a low loader. After turning it vertically and fitting several plant parts to the flare pipe, the mobile crane then hoisted the 16-tonne load. The critical point in the hoist was threading the flare pipe through a narrow scaffold frame at a height of around 60 metres to get it onto the flange below.

The rest of the work was simply professional routine for the Hüffermann team led by Crane Supervisor Martin Scheffler. The gas flare was then completed by installing the 2.8-tonne flare head and the job was finished.

The four-metre flare head at a height of 90 metres makes the gas flare complete again.

The four-metre flare head at a height of 90 metres makes the gas flare complete again.

Hans-Ulrich Pape, Shutdown Manager and the ExxonMobil employee responsible for the project was full of praise and appreciation for the work. "Hüffermann did some great work in a calm atmosphere. That and the high crane reserves are very important to us because this is almost like open-heart surgery for us. And one of the really impressive things was the quality of the equipment used by Hüffermann. All new cranes."

Hüffermann Krandienst GmbH based in Wildeshausen is active throughout the North of Germany. Over 40 mobile cranes, all made by Liebherr, make up the company's imposing mobile crane fleet. Cranes from Hüffermann are in use on an almost daily basis for ExxonMobil either at the site in Grossenkneten or on the region's natural gas fields. During so-called complete shutdowns at the plant, there may be up to 15 cranes at any one time on the site.