A triumphant arrival
The equipment that will comprise Braskem’s green ethylene production unit arrives in Triunfo, Rio Grande do Sul
written by: Taís HensHours before dawn on February 7, a Sunday, the first of three ships from China and Japan arrives in the southern Brazilian port of Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, transporting the main pieces of equipment for Braskem’s green ethylene plant. Its arrival coincides with the peak of construction of the new plant at the Triunfo (Triumph) Petrochemical Complex, which is being built by Odebrecht’s Industrial Engineering area. Now that over 95% of the civil construction has been completed, the most complex phase of the project is about to begin: assembling the large-scale equipment.
The first batch included the reactors which, together with the distillation towers, heat exchangers and compressors, weigh a total of 568 tonnes (metric tons). The ethylene fractionating tower alone weighs a hefty 147 tonnes, stands 53.5m high and is 2.7m in diameter. Once the cargo had cleared customs, the equipment traveled an additional 300 km by road to the Triunfo Complex, where it was unloaded in its permanent locations. The operation mobilized a team of 150 people out of the total of 1,500 who are working on this project.
Since the site already has paved roads and the foundations of buildings and facilities were ready to receive the equipment, the assembly operation did not run the risk of delay due to weather conditions. The most complex tasks involved raising the ethylene fractionating tower, which had to be divided into three parts for transport and required special hoisting and welding; and the assembly of the compressors, each weighing 45 tonnes. The design of the building that will house the compressors took their assembly into account. A hydraulic gantry was used to transport them directly to the base. The peak of the project is expected to continue until May.
This BRL 500-million project involves some innovations, including the pursuit of new partners to supply machinery and equipment. For the first time, the main suppliers are in China. Extensive pricing research in over 20 countries found that the Chinese offered amazing quality at a competitive price, surpassing Europe and Japan, which traditionally supply this sort of equipment.
During the manufacturing process, Braskem and Odebrecht Engenharia Industrial worked closely with all their Chinese suppliers to ensure compliance with the requirements set by the engineering design. Acquiring the equipment in China required an investment of about BRL 30 million. “We found an important window of opportunity in regard to time, cost and quality performance. Our suppliers are partners who are highly qualified to meet Braskem’s present and future needs,” observes Sérgio Luiz Gomes, the Manager of Braskem’s Green Ethylene Project.
The contract for implementing the project is being carried out through an alliance between Braskem, Odebrecht Engenharia Industrial and GenPro Engenharia. Luiz Axelrud Mutti, from Odebrecht, the officer Responsible for Construction and Installation, observes that the teams have planned all the activities involved in the various steps to harmonize the best sequence of construction and installation with the delivery of operating systems. “The schedule was set according to the priorities of the team responsible for starting up the plant,” says Mutti. He explains that the success of a venture with a challenging (fast-track) schedule requires unique engineering and construction and installation solutions. “We are ahead of schedule on the green ethylene project. The goal is to start up the plant earlier than planned. It was originally supposed to go online in the fourth quarter of 2010. This way, we will have more time to fine-tune the production side.”
Braskem already has green plastic deliveries scheduled for the first quarter of 2011. When production begins in 2010, the company’s Green Ethylene unit will be a global pioneer in terms of industrial scale production, bolstering Braskem’s strategy of accessing new competitive sources of raw materials, in line with its vision of sustainability.