The world knows many great projects, both in a positive and negative way. Here are 4 of the most challenging projects carried out in recent history:

Critical turnaround of a refinery

The recent market trends were not favorable for the refining business in Western Europe. Most projects could be classified as brownfield, often for old plants. In this market also the refinery of this example needed a scheduled turnaround. The conditions were such that if the targets were not met, the refinery would be closed down.

The cost engineers made rigorous efforts to compile a budget estimate, which was carried over by cost control all the way up to the project close-out. Because of the excellent performance and productivity the project was delivered according to plan. The refinery has been brought up to the current standards, with improved safety features and modern offices. As of today it is still operating.


The ITER project

ITER is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today. In southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars. 

The ITER Organization, and specifically its construction department, was looking to develop an overall Class 3 cost estimate for the complete project scope within its first phase. The first construction phase will allow ITER to achieve first plasma. This construction phase will stretch from 2017 to 2025. The construction includes the assembly, installation and testing of the ITER machine, plant and auxiliary systems (e.g. magnet, cooling water, vacuum, fueling and wall conditioning, ion cyclotron heating, et cetera). In order to structure this effort, Cost Engineering has been asked to prepare separate capital cost estimates and reports for the different systems and machine assembly phases.

The total scope of the project is split over 8 construction works and support contracts encompassing no less than six independent worksites covering 35 buildings, increasing its complexity.


Exotic materials in a large power plant

A new state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant was to be built at a newly developed site. There, it would be connected to plants that would also provide biological waste as fuel, in return for high-pressure steam and energy.

The power plant reaches high efficiencies, filters its exhaust gas and particles, and is able to compress and back CO2 into subterranean reservoirs of old gas fields. The project showcases the latest technology concerning coal-fired plants, including new material types not used before. These were required to sustain the high temperatures reached in the extra-large boilers.

These material types proved quite an interesting effort to estimate: being very brittle, they require a lot of pre-heating and cooling down. The welding itself also requires up to 10x more time to perform than with regular steel alloys used in these types of plants. Many different material factors had to be derived to be able to estimate this project. With factors between 1 and 10, finding the proper amount of resources makes all the difference when determining the viability of the project.


Multiple new offshore platforms

A large oil & gas company recently completed the construction of a new production platform, drilling platform and made modifications to three existing platforms connected to the same network.

The estimate was prepared using Cost Engineering’s cost database, including norms, prices and composites to derive a total cost estimate. Because the project was carried out in a remote location, where the availability of experienced labor was less favorable; adjustments for productivity were needed for a large part of the project. Also, environmental, geographical, political and other conditions required adjustments of the norms and prices in the estimate.

An offshore project of this size brings many risks, for which an extensive risk management plan was set up and carried out.


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