The Issue


When the PetroPlus Coryton Refinery (UK) went in to liquidation the refinery was put through an orderly close-down prior to the departure of almost all of the staff. The new owners had decided to cease refining operations and so appointed a small team of seven professional engineers having expert knowledge of the plant to organise the decommissioning.  The team were left with a huge problem.  A sophisticated oil refinery, measuring 12 on the Nelson scale of complexity, had to be made safe, but they lacked the decontamination expertise they knew they needed.


Additionally, the refinery had four separate flare lines that contained heavy deposits of pyrophoric materials. It was critical that the process equipment was pyrophoric free, to allow the refinery to lift the nitrogen blanket on the flare line. To complete the clean it would be necessary to use huge pipework runs to connect the circuits which were hundreds of meters apart.


It was essential that the decontamination cleaning was carried out rigorously, as any pyrophoric material that remained during the dismantling phase could cause a fire.

The Challenge


As the refinery had not been in operation for 12 months it was almost impossible to know what condition the units would be in when our team came to open them up. Due to the units having no maintenance carried out on them the probability of faults and corrosion would be high.


The refinery boilers had been run-down and electrical services isolated. The decontamination services needed to be fully self-sufficient.


The Solution


ProDecon was contracted to integrate an expert team into the survey, planning and project management roles so that a safety-optimised programme of work was implemented that would allow flexibility as the decommissioning plan evolved.


To achieve this one of our permanent project managers worked closely with the refinery team to create a scope of works that would accommodate other activities.  Our team created plans on hazard identification, budgeting, risk management assessments and the identification and manufacture of fabrication needs. Method statements were drafted and agreed, temporary services installed.


As part of ProDecon’s pre-start procedures, using our own dedicated pipe work, which on this site extended more than 1.4km, we were able to test the integrity of the circuit to make sure that the unit would stand the pressures of the clean. This test was critical, due to the minimal maintenance in recent years.  After this our team successfully completed the decontamination clean on the vacuum column and atmospheric column.


Upon initial testing both columns showed no pyrophoric materials and when tested again 6 months later there were still no pyrophoric materials present. It was critical that following the ProDecon works the columns  stayed pyrophoric free so that the equipment could be safely vented to atmosphere and air gapped.


Customer Benefits




  • Being in Safe Hands.  ProDecon can be relied on to Safely Manage Risk. This project was completed with zero accidents, incidents or near misses. ProDecon’s safety performance leads the industry.


  • Expertise. With over 20 years of individual experience our Project Managers filled an important ‘knowledge gap’ that was missing at the refinery


  • Full planning, pre-engineering and job packs completed by decontamination experts.


  • Project Management, supply and full-service implementation by dedicated ProDecon team.


  • All temporary plant and equipment fully tested and certified and provided from within the ProDecon dedicated resource.


  • Equipment was left pyrophoric free meaning it could be vented to atmosphere and safely air-gapped prior to dismantling at some future point.