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Products and solutions, 2006-09-11, 11:43 AM

Industrial services between sea and sand

Ever since the nineties when the world's largest continuous natural gas field was first discovered in the Emirate of Qatar, the Ras Laffan settlement has changed dramatically. The former fishing village in the northeast of this small country at the Persian Gulf has mushroomed into a gigantic industrial complex offering attractive business potential for German companies, too. The industrial megaservices provider, ThyssenKrupp Xervon, has already handled most successfully a series of corrosion-and fire-proofing projects in Qatar.

"With the work we have performed so far, we have acquired for ourselves a very good reputation, both with the biggest state-owned enterprises Qatar Petroleum and QatarGas, as well as with most of the sizable plant engineering companies," says a pleased Axel Bub, Technical Manager of the Xervon branch in Qatar. Last year, for example, a crew of 50 had been in action on a complete gas production platform in the North Field, upgrading the corrosion and fire protection coatings. And, just as successful, an upgrade project on an offshore gas platform of QatarGas, in only three months. "Word of our excellent work gets around in a country that attaches a lot of importance to personal recommendation," explains Bub. Just as everywhere else, the quality of the work and punctuality are of prime importance, here in Qatar, too.

Corrosion protection in the desert heat

In Ras Laffan itself, Xervon has coated within a year a 50,000 square tank as part of the construction of the ORYX-GTL Plant - a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and South Africa's Sasol (South African Synthetic Oil). In GTL (gas-to-liquid) plants, gas is converted into liquid products. The ORYX Plant worth three billion US dollars has been in operation since March 2006 and produces 34,000 barrel of fuel per day.

ThyssenKrupp Xervon was responsible for the external and internal coating of the 18 new liquid product tanks (measuring 72 meters diameter and 21 meters height), inclusive of the necessary scaffolding. Having completed this work within a year is no mean feat in view of the scorching heat. At temperatures of up to 48°C and conditions in the tanks like in an oven, some of the work had to be shifted into the night hours and fans had to be used for a supply of cool fresh air.

This sounds simpler than it is, because cooling the air raises the humidity, particularly if the air comes in from the sea. "We had to closely monitor the dew point, because coating has to stop if humidity exceeds 85 percent," Bub recalls. These values persisted sometimes for days, but thanks to the personal commitment of individual employees, the schedule was kept to all the same. During the end phase of the project, the operations managers were on site for up to 16 hours per day to organize the work in consultation with the client and other trades involved and make efficient use of every hour. This way decisions could be taken on the spot and all resources effectively exploited.

Prospects ahead

For the Qatargas 2 LNG plant, ThyssenKrupp Xervon has now bid for the execution of the corrosion protection and scaffold erection work. Other bids will follow. For the next 20 years, a total of 16 LNG and seven GTL projects as well as five gas and seven ethylene plants are planned in Ras Laffan. The port, already the world's biggest LNG export port, is also being extended. Seven terminals are scheduled to join the existing four by 2009.

Info on Qatar:

Qatar's future is in natural gas. The Emirate's North Field is the world's largest continuous natural gas field with established exploitable reserves of 900 billion cubic feet. As a consequence of the discovery of these huge gas resources, Ras Laffan Industrial City was created north of Doha at the end of the Nineties. Today, this industrial complex already has the world's biggest gas liquefaction plants and its own port. In 2002 production of liquefied gas came to 13.5 million tonnes. The Qatargas 1 LNG plant, in operation since 2004, produces an extra 10 million tonnes per year.

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