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Fuel terminal storage design for Pelican Point

Pelican Point

Aurecon designed the world class million Pelican Point terminal.

The opening of the Pelican Point facility in 2014, at Port Adelaide, represents a 50 per cent increase in the storage capacity of South Australia.

The terminal is owned and currently operated by Terminals Pty Ltd, and Caltex leases the facility exclusively as the foundation customer.

The facilities provide fuel to industry and local service stations, and services Australia's growing transport, agricultural and mining fuel needs. It is the first large, modern, multi-product terminal built since the Vopak Darwin terminal in 2005.

The project represents about AUD 100 million of combined investment from Terminals (Pty Ltd), Caltex and the upgrading of the wharf by Flinders Ports.

Aurecon undertook the design of the facilities. A collaborative approach, strong technical expertise, and timely and cost conscious delivery, drove the best outcomes for supply security and reliability in fuel imports on the Pelican Point Facility project.

Structural changes Australia’s fuel supply chain

Australia is going through some major structural changes in its supply chain, including the closure of a number of its refineries. The refineries are closing for four main reasons:

  1. Economies of scale. Relative to the rest of the world, Australia refineries are small and therefore less efficient.
  2. Many Australian refineries were built in the 1950s and 1960s and are unable to process heavier imported crudes without further significant investment.
  3. Operating and engineering labour costs in Australia are higher than refining competitors in Asia
  4. The emergence of huge refineries in the Asia-Pacific region, notably Singapore, India and the Middle East. A single refinery in India is big enough to produce double the output of all Australia’s refineries.

Closures include: Exxon Mobil’s Port Stanvac refinery (Adelaide, mothballed in 2003), Shell’s Clyde refinery (Sydney, refining operations ceased in 2012); Caltex’s Kurnell (Sydney), which will close by end 2014, and BP’s announcement to close Bulwer Island (Brisbane) mid-2015.

The remaining refineries are BP's Kwinana (Western Australia), Shell's Geelong, which recently sold to Vitol of Switzerland, Caltex's Lytton (Melbourne) and Exxon-Mobil's Altona (Melbourne).

The closure of refineries is turning the nation into one of Asia’s larger fuel importers.

As the demand for increased importation of fuels grows, ongoing investment in petroleum import infrastructure, particularly bulk fuel terminal infrastructure, becomes more important in ensuring supply security.

Creating a reliable South Australia fuel supply

With the closure of Exxon Mobil’s Port Stanvac refinery in Adelaide, about 95 per cent of South Australia’s fuel is now supplied by tankship though Port Adelaide, from local and overseas refineries mainly from imports of refined products from Singapore.

However, supply to the existing fuel terminals in Adelaide had been mainly by pipeline from the refinery. These terminals therefore do not have the storage volumes or berths required for supply by large fully laden tankships. This meant that the existing fuel supply infrastructure was for the most part, inefficient and unreliable.

Tankship berths for the existing terminals were in Port Adelaide. Draft restrictions meant supply could only be by smaller partly laden tankships. Supply to the new terminal is from a deeper berth at the Outer Harbor, allowing fully loaded tankships of 86 000 plus deadweight tonnes.

The new terminal can store 85 million litres of fuel, in eight vertical storage tanks for diesel, three grades of motor spirits and bio-diesel. The new site has plenty of room for expansion, with the first stage expansion plan being to add 50 million litres of diesel storage, and convert two of the existing tanks to Jet storage.

The increased storage has assisted the community by increasing Caltex’s fuel reserves above its safety stock in Adelaide from five days to 32 days when the facility is full.

On the decision for the new location, National Planning and Optimisation Manager for Caltex Terminals, Paul O’Loughlin, said: “With increased storage capacity and the supply chain now open to deeper berthing facilities, constraints that contributed to fuel shortages across Adelaide and South Australia over recent years have been eliminated and the fuel reliability into the state improved.”

The Outer Harbor location also removes the facility from the suburbs to an industrial precinct, thereby reducing risks to the community.

The new terminal has facilities to load out to road tankwagons in three bays, with plans to add loadout to rail tankwagons in the future, and room to add one more road tankwagon bay.

Increasing efficiencies

The purpose-built import fuel terminal, at Adelaide’s Outer Harbor, is markedly more efficient than Caltex’s existing Birkenhead terminal in Port Adelaide. The historic facility has now received its last tankship delivery.

Each of the three bays at the new terminal has five loading arms, with each arm able to deliver at 2 400 litres per minute. To date this accommodates about 48 trucks per day, allowing 63 million litres to be loaded out in one month.

The terminal is fed via marine loading arms, and two 14 inch wharflines. This allows tankship delivery at three million litres per hour, thus reducing tankship turnaround times.

Efficient design

Ensuring supply security needed an advanced facility that substantially reduced the risks to the environment.

George Horman, Managing Director General Manager of Terminals, said: “Having previously worked with Aurecon on our Botany Bitumen project, we were confident in the team’s ability to design and deliver complex fuel storage projects in a short timeframe. The result was a high-tech facility that is benchmarked to the region regarding compliance and safety.”

“The project was a collaborative effort between Terminals, Caltex and Aurecon, and we have heard from other international terminal operators who have viewed the facility, that they were particularly impressed with the layout of the terminal which they saw as world class,” Horman added.

Aurecon’s Project Director, Tim Labett, said: “Having specialist terminal engineers in all disciplines, allowed Aurecon to bring to the design process a wide range of new ideas plus proven solutions. This allowed us to work more closely with our client, and assisted with the optimisation of the design to meet their objectives. Aurecon design work included the provision of five main packages: tanks; piling; civil; electrical, and mechanical, plus 15 equipment supply packages. Co-ordination of these packages enhanced the integration of the design between the disciplines, and allowed a cost effective procurement strategy.

The entire project was designed using different 3D software modelling packages for pipework, civil and structural. These were then combined in the 3D viewing package Navisworks, for full project visualisation and clash checking. Caltex and Terminals Pty Ltd could use a free copy of Navisworks to review the design as it progressed. Navisworks also allowed for remote client/designer interaction using screen sharing software.

Aurecon’s role spanned detailed design and documentation of all aspects of the facility, including preparation and submission of the development application for approval by the authorities, and the provision of technical assistance during the 18 month construction and commissioning period.

The latter allowed Terminals to fast track the project to meet the deadline for the first fuel shipment, received on 14 February 2014.

This project substantially reduces environmental risk by replacing an old terminal with an ultramodern facility, which includes features such as:

  • renewable biofuels blending,
  • vapour recovery to convert vapours back into fuel,
  • foam and spray cooling fire protection and secondary containment using an HDPE liner system,

“Everything works together to ensure the terminal is operating efficiently, economically and safely, and consistently with the environment and community standards,” Horman noted.

In addition to the environmental protection and sustainability aspects, the facility design includes the following high-tech features: storm water management utilising a first flush pit combined with a Class 1 European oil/water separator discharging to a wetland detention basin; additive injection using mono block metering; road tankwagon overfill protection and vapour recovery; and site office and control room with an integrated terminal automation system.

A fitting partnership

Underpinning the success of the design and construction was the basis of design document for the facility. “This document, setting out the Caltex criteria, with modifications from Terminals and Aurecon, was essentially the bible the project team needed to work back to,” O’Loughlin said.

Working closely with Terminals and Caltex, Aurecon was able to create an efficient design, using the latest technology, which met the stringent standards required of both parties. The project team was responsible for geotechnical, civil, mechanical, fire protection and electrical engineering services.

“Approvals were integral to the success of the project and Aurecon provided world-class support on working through this process,” O’Loughlin added.

The use of 3D modelling, according to O’Loughlin, worked really well in the design review process. It drove efficiencies in stakeholder engagement; enabling the sharing of designs across a far broader audience than those with the ability to read and understand information contained on drawings, and allowing operators to visualise what the end product would look like, rather than seeing a one dimensional drawing. It also delivered savings in the design process, through real time pickup and rectification of issues as they arose.

O’Loughlin further commented: “What was particularly great about working with Aurecon was the team’s availability.

“Having all design team meetings in one location - Wellington, New Zealand - with all engineering disciplines present, meant we were able to discuss any concerns we had immediately with the owner and expert of that area. There was no waiting for someone to come back with an answer, resulting in much shorter meeting times.”

While the project was lead and mainly resourced from a multi-disciplined oil terminal team based in New Zealand, the project also utilised resources from the Australian offices of Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane as well as from the Thailand office.

O’Loughlin said Caltex views itself as an industry leader regarding new technology, fuel grades and the quality of service it provides. He welcomed the support of Aurecon in completing the work safely.

Aurecon has now completed the multidiscipline full detailed design of over 15 new terminals and large terminal designs, which total a storage volume of 430 million litres in 38 tanks.

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