Ice hard engineering

An ethylene cracker plant currently being constructed at the site Tobolsk in Siberia is Citec’s largest project to date.

The size of the project and the harsh weather conditions make it particularly challenging and interesting at the same time. The ethylene cracker plant is constructed in Tobolsk and Citec’s client is the German company Linde Engineering.

The harsh natural conditions of Siberia – temperatures that can fall below -50 °C, permafrost, large quantities of snow, and short summer seasons – require a great deal of engineering. Citec’s responsibilities in the ethylene cracker plant project include detail engineering for parts of a huge ethylene cracker unit, including engineering in the areas of steel, concrete and piling, as well as HVAC and safety.

“The ethylene cracker plant project at the site Tobolsk is Citec’s largest project to date in terms of both workload and contractual value”, says Project Manager Kaj Björkqvist. The project, which Citec has been working on since 2014, has employed Citec employees in Finland, Russia and India.

The ethylene cracking unit is, by any measure, massive in size and challenging to complete. It is one of the largest ethylene plants in Russia, with a total area of close to a square kilometre. Following completion in 2019 based on the current schedule, the plant will be able to produce 1.5 million tonnes of ethylene per year. The production of the gas will make use of Siberia’s huge oil reserves.

“A gas plant that operates in extreme conditions requires a lot from engineering.”

“A gas plant being constructed to operate in extreme conditions requires a lot from engineering. The cold temperatures and long winters with the gas specific requirements place high demands on the heating and ventilation systems, for example”, says Jonas Nylund, who is responsible for Citec HVAC engineering in the project.

Safety issues have played a crucial role due to both the nature of the plant being constructed and the challenging conditions. Citec’s own practices form the basis for the safety engineering, but Russian safety regulations provided additional challenges to the project.

“Safety issues are taken very seriously in Russia, but the related legislation is constantly changing”, says Arkadij Bamm, who was responsible for safety engineering.

Citec’s expertise in Russian norms has played a significant role throughout the whole project. Citec’s Russian office has continuously worked to ensure progress in the engineering and compliance with Russian laws and requirements. Construction-related regulations and the clients wish for all construction to be carried out using Russian materials have imposed an additional framework for the engineering.

“Without strong local knowledge we could not have progressed through the project as smoothly”, Bamm continues.

The engineering has been carried out concurrently with all of the projects parts that Citec is working on. The successful engineering of structural and concrete is based on mutual collaboration between Linde and Citec.

“The fact that Citec had such a large set of responsibilities has provided a clear advantage in terms of efficiency. Well-functioning overall solutions were made possible by our natural and easy internal communications”, says Nylund.

Check out Linde’s video of the ethylene cracker plant project at the site Tobolsk:

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