Esso Fawley is a refinery located in Hampshire, UK. It is the largest in Europe and accounts for about a fifth of the UK’s refining capacity.
One of it’s 330 tanks was to be relined to allow storage of aviation fuels and a specialist coating was required along with an upgrade to the roof.
Span Access Solutions were asked to recommend an alternative access method for the spray application of the new lining that would offer cost savings over traditional scaffolding.
In addition to a willingness to accept new access techniques, the project management team were also using a remotely operated closed blasting system for the first time on the site in an effort to increase the quality of the surface preparation while reducing the risks associated with traditional open dry blasting.
Span Access recommended the supply and installation of 2no 6m suspended access cradles driven by pneumatic hoists supplied via an externally sited compressor. Since the tank was not live, such equipment was easily incorporated into the permit to work issued to Span.
Each cradle was suspended from 2no bespoke parapet clamps fitted to the upper wall of the tank, accessed from the external wind girder. A third clamp was supplied for each cradle and was continually installed ahead of time to facilitate swift relocation.
A team of 2 operatives was retained by the client for the duration of the operation to allow continual relocation and on-going servicing and inspections of the equipment throughout the operation.
The refinery management were initially reluctant to allow us to use cradles and upon further investigation it was discovered that this was simply due to the fact that they hadn't been used on site in the past and a resulting lack of knowledge on the safe use of such systems.
Both cradles were constructed, fully tested and handed over to the client within a single shift, with subsequent relocations taking approx. 30mins per cradle including a full height function test by Span operatives prior to use. Full system training including cradle recovery was given by Span to the client's operatives and daily inspections were actioned and logged by the team on retention in addition to any required maintenance.
The closed blast system subsequently failed to be effective and within the hour, our client's operatives were in the cradles progressing well with open dry blasting. The tank was fully blasted with holding primer applied in six shifts. Two coats of the specified lining were applied across seven shifts with ongoing surface preparation and coatings inspections throughout the operation.
Refinery management were happy with all aspects of the project. Despite initial delays with the closed blasting, our access solution allowed the team to progress using a more traditional blasting method and reclaim the lost time and return the tank to service on time and within budget.
Traditional scaffolding was estimated in a tank of this size to require 8 weeks to erect.