Case study

Coke drums replacement

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Our delivery

LTI free

500,000 manhours

429 tonne

derrick structure lift

200 tonne

lift of new coke drums into place


of 1,600 tonne 125 crawler crane

160 trucks

delivered components

Project details

Wood’s multi-disciplined global project team designed, supplied and installed four replacement coke drums for OMV Petrom's Petrobrazi refinery in just 65 days, helping maintain production targets and critical energy security for Eastern Europe.

Securing the nation’s energy supply

With an annual crude oil refining capacity of 4.5 million tonnes, Petrobrazi is one of the most important refineries in Romania and critical to the nation’s energy security.

Located near Ploiesti City, Petrobrazi Refinery is operated by OMV Petrom, the largest integrated energy company in South-Eastern Europe.

Since 2005, OMV Petrom has invested more than EUR 2 billion in its Petrobrazi refinery, with a third of this investment contributing to reducing its impact on the environment.

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A history of trust, performance excellence and ingenuity

Since 2009, Wood has supported OMV Petrom across a multitude of complex greenfield and brownfield projects as part of an ongoing framework agreement. The Coke Drum Replacement (CDR) project is part of a series of major upgrades Wood is executing to OMV Petrom’s refinery, as well as greenfield installations including polyfuel and coker blowdown units.

Within Petrobrazi’s coker unit, four coke drums were nearing the end of their design lifetime and replacements were essential to maintain production levels. Coke drums are a critical part of the refining process and operations cannot continue without them. Four new replacements needed to be designed, engineered and installed with absolute precision, fitting exactly into the existing coker unit structure.

With a strong global reputation for delivering major complex projects including a high degree of technical and organisational complexity, in June 2020 Wood was selected to design, supply and install four coke drums within existing coke unit infrastructure. Scope also included the assessment and replacement of coker unit pipelines, cables and instruments if they were found to be at the end of life.

Commencing August 2022, the entire project needed to be completed in just 65 days to avoid disruption to the refinery’s output, OMV Petrom production targets and energy security for Eastern Europe.

Pin accuracy and organisational complexity during a global pandemic

Due to the requirement for the coke drums to fit perfectly within existing infrastructure, accurate calculations and exceptional attention to detail was essential to eliminate the possibility of project setbacks.

COVID-19 was at its height and local lockdowns were in place during the project’s early stage, meaning remote communication, thorough preparation for on-site work and compliance with authorities was paramount. Coke drum design was performed remotely, informed by laser scans of the existing unit taken by the local team to model the new assets.

Contractors meticulously followed precise drawings and measurements provided by Wood, manufacturing coke drums using high quality materials compliant with updated regulations, creating modernised replacements that were fit for the future.

Once checked for quality and precision, the coke drums, each weighing 200 tonnes, were mobilised from the workshop in Bucharest to site. Transportation of the coke drums was planned during night time to minimise local disruption, involving more than 50 vehicles and police escort.

To lift the derrick, remove existing coke drums, install new coke drums and reinstall the derrick, a 1,600 tonne crawler crane was required. Reserved two years prior to mobilisation, the assembly of the crawler crane required more than 160 trucks to deliver components from Northern Europe to site. During the lift, the net weight of the derrick structure was a staggering 429 tonnes.

While engineering comes before construction in many traditional projects, this complex project called for both to run in tandem. Meticulous planning and precision engineering made the project a great success, completed just under its initial budget and two days early.

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