It was an impressive sight coming down the Mississippi River: one of four 1.5-million-pound, 145-foot long coke drums that are part of the Garyville refinery’s Coker MAX project in its 2019-2020 turnaround season.
As vessels go, these are large, even within the refining industry. The coke drums also were the heaviest vessels to come over Garyville’s levee site since the Garyville Major Expansion (GME). The levee work required 17,000 square feet of limestone, well over 1,000 timber mats, and nearly five million pounds of counterweight to counteract the vessel weight as it crossed the levee. From leaving a port in India to arriving onsite in the refinery took nearly five months. The Coker MAX project team also continually battled high Mississippi River levels which caused delays not only for the coke drum transport but also for the turnaround and other projects.
Just getting the coke drums over the levee is only one part of the project. In order to replace them, the 1.2-million-pound derrick structure had to be disconnected and removed. Then the old coke drums, each weighing 1.3 million pounds, had to be removed. Each of these lifts, performed by Deep South Crane and Rigging, were heavily engineered and took six to eight hours to complete.
“The crane being used is the largest outrigger-based crane in the world at a 2,800-ton capacity,” comments Trevor Buttery, project engineer for the Coker MAX project. “This is also the first time that we have replaced any of our coke drums in Garyville. You don’t see coke drum replacements like this very often, especially at this scale.”
In addition to the coke drums themselves, the effort also involved installing a new coker furnace cell and upgrading or replacing numerous pumps, vessels, exchangers, air coolers and more.
The first two drums were replaced in October, and the other two drums will be replaced in February. Coker MAX was, and will continue to be, a huge effort for the Garyville refinery. Some stats on the project are listed below:
· 47,000 feet of piping
· 566 tons of steel
· 1,500 cubic yards of concrete
· 15,000 cubic yards of sitework
· 380,000 feet of wire and cable