ALE and Aertssen have installed the main fractionator at the Total Refinery in Antwerp, reaching a new milestone for the Optara project. The joint venture is a cooperation between ALE, worldwide heavy transportation specialists, and Aertssen Kranen, market leader for lifting activities with mobile cranes.

The project is part of Total’s €1 billion investment in its refining and petrochemical complex in Antwerp, Total’s second-largest and Europe’s third-largest refinery. The project will see the construction of a new unit and the conversion of an existing unit.

The lift of the main fractionator was included in the scope awarded last year by Tecnicas Reunidas to ALE and Aertssen. The total scope involves the transportation and installation of the modular main construction and the installation of the main equipment.

The main fractionator was the critical piece of the project for its size, 57m long, 10 meters in diameter and a weight of 250t. ALE transported the item under the crane’s hook by using 32 axle lines of SPMT. Afterwards Aertssen Kranen took over and placed the column on its foundation by using a 650t Terex Superlift 3800 crawler crane. A 280t Hitachi SCX2800-2 crawler crane was used as a tailing crane.

The operations are currently continuing progressively, due to a thorough preparation by the different departments involved: engineering, planning and project management. Through this partnership ALE and Aertssen won Total’s Contractor of the Month award for their HSQE efforts, and their HSQE advisors are continuing to rigorously monitor all safety aspects and ensure that the operational teams on-site have executed the manoeuvres to a high standard.

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