Massive pipe racks make 18-kilometre move

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Project cargo specialist Sarens moved 24 pipe rack modules 18 kilometres in Louisiana, transiting farm fields and train tracks to help build Shintech’s new plant.

A rack module makes its way across railway tracks.

Shintech Louisiana invested US$1.49 billion to develop a chloralkali and vinyl chloride monomer production plant and expand the Plaquemine, Louisiana, PVC manufacturing site. Recently completed, the plant is capable of producing 860,000 tons per year (tpy) of vinyl chloride monomer (the raw material of PVC) and 660,000 tpy of caustic soda.

The pipe rack modules measured almost 31 metres long by 13 metres. They are critical to Shintech’s new manufacturing plant in Plaquemine. Shintech is responsible for 32 percent of PVC production in the United States.

Sarens was contracted by consultant APTIM, which was handling the move for Shintech. The move totalled 18 kilometres from Shintech’s existing plant in Lake Charles, to Plaquemine.

As part of the project Sarens had to:

  • Transport the modules from fabricator’s yard.
  • Roll-on the modules in Lake Charles, Louisiana, onto the barge and transport to Plaquemine.
  • Roll-off the modules in Plaquemine.
  • Transport the modules over the road, 11 miles over two days including a sugarcane field.
  • Finally set the modules on anchor bolts at the Shintech VCM 3 plant.

Sarens encountered a variety of challenges on the job.

The biggest was coordinating permissions required from the electric company, the city of Plaquemine, the state of Louisiana, the railroad company, Shintech, and the owners of sugarcane fields which the pipes needed to cross.

The railway company, for example, would only allow the tracks to be crossed before 8am. The electric company could not provide service to lift the power lines on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, reducing the window of opportunity for the move to those days.

In addition, Sarens had to build a temporary bridge 24.3m long to cross the sugarcane plantations. Project manager Kevin Upton said, “Over 2500 laminated mats were placed in the sugarcane fields to improve the road condition allowing the smooth and safe transport of the modules. Our team did an excellent job and we are so proud of the project.”

The cargo was loaded and secured on trucks and 100 lines of self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) to cross to the river shore, where the modules were packed onto two 76- by 16.5-metre barges for transportation across Lake Charles.

Once at their final destination, the pipes were unloaded and transported across sugarcane fields and roads, a two-day journey to Shintech’s VCM 3 factory in Plaquemine.

Once the pipe modules were at the factory, Sarens unloaded them  and placed them on anchor bolts.  

Sarens uses the latest equipment, engineering, and a large inventory of cranes, transporters, and specialty rigging equipment, to solve heavy lifting and engineered transport challenges. It operates in 65 countries, including Canada, and employs 4,543.