STEULER-KCH awarded largest contract in the company's history


An industrial plant for the production of phosphoric acid is currently being constructed at the northernmost tip of Saudi of Arabia, near the restricted area bordering Jordan and Iraq. The order won by STEULER-KCH is worth over 40 million US dollars and is thus the biggest project in the company's history.

The scope of project "Ma'aden Umm Wual" is indeed immense: 180 steel vessels and several dozen concrete structures are to be lined with rubber and acid-resistant bricks in order to protect them effectively against corrosion. Floor and plinth areas are to be lined with carbon bricks to protect against abrasion. The installation of the rubber linings places special demands on the specialists. The rubber-lined vessel itself is to be used as an autoclave once the material has been laid – this can only be achieved by a well-rehearsed team of experts with decades of experience in on-site lining. The steel container will be filled with steam using special equipment and pressurised in order to permanently cure the rubber lining and make it resistant to mechanical, chemical and thermal degradation. In addition to lining steel vessels and concrete structures, there are also floor surfaces, such as at the outdoor tank storage facilities, which must also be coated/tiled.

The assigned working group has been working intensively on cost estimates and detailed planning since mid 2014. The project will involve undertaking an impressive 3,000 steps which are precisely scheduled to the day and are expected to absorb 570,000 man hours. 60,000m² of rubber lining, 30,000 m² of brick linings and 130,000 m² of floor coatings are to be manufactured, transported and installed before STEULER-KCH hands the structures over in the summer 2016. The clients from Korea and Saudi Arabia have stipulated closely spaced interim approvals, strict quality control and a tight timeframe for the delivery of materials and installation work. All corrosion protection solutions must be completed in an expert manner within 11 months and handed over ready for use.

Later on, around 7,000 people will live and work here in "no man's land". The north of the country has the natural resources the plant needs, but the region is very poorly developed. The closest civilisation is a small town 30 km away, but it doesn't have what you could call serviceable infrastructure. The nearest large cities are at least 1000 km away. Too far away to take a car in for repair, visit an Internet cafe for a chat with the family or see a doctor. So before work can start on the construction and operation of the phosphorus plants, the basics must be established first. Railways, residential settlements, container accommodation and the basic necessities required to live in the uninhabited area are being created.

For the STEULER-KCH team too, the order entails a whole host of basic preparatory work before the first material supplies can be delivered to the construction site and installed there. Subcontractors will be coordinated and goods transports managed by the subsidiary in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia that has been founded specifically for the purpose. The materials, which are being manufactured and temporarily stored in Germany, will be shipped by sea to the Saudi port in 9 shipments. After being temporarily stored until they clear customs, they will then be transported by road to the site approximately 1,500 km away to the north. Many of the materials are subject to strict refrigeration requirements and require an uninterrupted cold chain or must be transported in special containers. When they arrive at the construction site, there will be reserved plots with diesel generators and power connections waiting, which will ensure the continuous operation of the refrigeration units.

The STEULER-KCH team itself will fly to Saudi Arabia and use rental cars for the long journeys within the country. The local rental car company is under contractual obligation to ensure the continuous maintenance and repair of the vehicles – just one of the many points that had to be settled well before work on the construction site commenced.

STEULER-KCH required a specially built on-site workshop for working on and processing the rubber lining materials. Office containers and toilets with a freshwater tank and a wastewater tank for the use of the team are to be installed prior to construction work commencing. The team will sleep in the camp in rented shared accommodation with the fine-sounding names "VIP room" and "Room with shower". A site supervisor, a quality manager and a site safety manager will be on site at all times. These are supported by up to ten supervisors and other coordinators. The bulk of the team is made up of the 600 technicians and fitters working on the phosphoric acid plant on behalf of Steuler. Everyone will be entitled to a week’s break with the family after eight weeks of permanent residence there.