ACE PHOTOGRAPHER, DAVID POLLOCK HITCHES ANOTHER RIDE WITH WEST OF SCOTLAND HEAVY HAULAGE
Sarens UK contracted West of Scotland Heavy Haulage to oversee stage one transport of three mammoth sections – 7.6m wide by 9m high – of INEOS’ £300m Hydrogen Recovery Project. Currently under construction at their Grangemouth facility, and due for completion in 2016, it will allow INEOS to import, store, and utilise competitive US shale gas, ethane.
These mechanical piping-works and support systems had to go from Doosan Babcock’s manufacturing facility in Westway Industrial Parkway in Renfrew, Scotland, to Peel Ports KGV Docks, Govan – for forward shipping to Grangemouth. Doosan Babcock would then complete fabrication and final installation of all the new pipework and systems: connecting the ethane-offloading booms at the Grangemouth Jetty to the new ethane storage tank, and the tank to the KG ethylene-cracker plant.
THE JOB AND ROUTE
Breathe and you were in trouble. The first load had moved less than 500 yards when everything ground to halt! The fabrication workshop’s massive door was shy a few inches. No stress to West of Scotland Heavy Haulage and the team at Babcock Engineering – a few measurements, quick scribble of chalk and run of extension. The angle-grinder roared into life.
Then shortly after 2pm, passing into the cold wet daylight of a miserable Sunday afternoon, the scale of the first hulk became evident. The next two sections were loaded and transported out of the shed. At 5pm the industrial park fell silent, a few hours grace before the monster cargo was unleashed onto the roads of Renfrewshire.
Clock striking half eleven, preparing for exit onto French Street, an old disused back exit last used before any of the current workforce were employed. Width trouble again – one side of the security gate needed cutting away. Babcock’s team didn’t hang around. The handy angle-grinder soon made adjustments. Just short of midnight, rain bouncing and a crisp wind blowing, through the mist and rain headlights appear; the unmistakable rasp of a V8 Audi. Police Scotland will escort the loads through the small town of Renfrew.
Zero three: final checks. Radios, lights, camera, and action! French Street, then Porterfield Road pass, run of the mill. Next, a tight left onto the A471 Paisley Road, with residents’ cars parked nose to tail. No panic, slow and steady: the team fold in wing-mirrors, gaining valuable centimeters for the load. Progress – but there had to be one! Halfway down, radios light up: “ALL STOP!” A van and box trailer, out enough to make it too close for comfort. Police Scotland; PNC; registered keeper; phone call. An unscheduled ten minute break: green lit, we were rolling once again.
Renfrewshire Council had cleared street furniture and lighting from Glebe Street’s centre islands so the convoy could use all the road. This section was the slowest: care taken to ensure clearance both down below – but also up top. At 9m we were in the heavens: because these loads are rare, trees have become overgrown and quite strong. The branches lightly brush us as Glebe Street patters by. Brief pause to check the loads. No damage to report, just a few sticks from broken boughs. On we go.
Straight through the Centre. Dean Park roundabout, wrong-siding A8 Glasgow Road, Police Scotland ahead, controlling traffic. 500 yards up, adjacent to Old Govan Road Junction the team sweep across onto the correct side of the carriageway. A quick re-centre of the rear-wheel steering. Onwards! The team let it rip, nice steady gallop at 15-20 mph. Approaching the first of the roundabouts winding into the Breahead segment; a brief pause to call the ground crew out. The pace settles back to 5 mph, grinding round into Kings Inch Road. Next up, a neat junction. Sticking close left, taking the widest set of lights, the convoy sails into the final drag: Old Govan Road: all 200 yards of it. Kings Inch Drive. The team manoeuver the Nooteboom 4 axle trailers with the rear steer. The driver takes a wider line, swinging back across the first exit. Second exit and straight onto the next roundabout. Tighter again. West of Scotland Heavy Haulage use this section daily. They show exactly how it’s done – left, right, left – heading for the dark hole between the trees dead ahead. The back gates of the KGV come into view. Floodlights flare on full. High fives all round: smiles beaming on the faces of the entire team. All that was left – off load onto the awaiting boat for forward-shipping to Grangemouth, where the Sarens team pick up the torch and complete the job with their specialist SPMTs.