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New milestone reached in optara project

Aertssen Kranen and ALE have installed the main fractionator at the Total Refinery in Antwerp, reaching a new milestone for the Optara project. The joint venture is a cooperation between Aertssen Kranen, market leader for lifting activities with mobile cranes, and ALE, worldwide heavy transportation specialists.

The project is part of Total’s € 1 billion investment in its refining and petrochemical complex in Antwerp, Total’s second-largest and Europe’s third-largest refinery. The project will see the construction of a new unit and the conversion of an existing unit.

ale-antwerp-2The main fractionator was the critical piece of the project for its size: 57 meters long, 10 meters in diameter and a weight of 250 tons. ALE transported the item under the crane’s hook by using 32 axle lines of SPMT. Afterwards Aertssen Kranen took over and placed the column on its foundation by using a 650t Terex Superlift 3800 crawler crane. A 280t Hitachi SCX2800-2 crawler crane was used as a tailing crane.

The operations are currently continuing progressively, due to a thorough preparation by the different departments involved: engineering, planning and project management. Through this partnership Aertssen Kranen and ALE won Total’s Contractor of the Month award for their HSQE efforts, and their HSQE advisors are continuing to rigorously monitor all safety aspects and ensure that the operational teams on-site have executed the manoeuvres to a high standard.


Maarten Zijlmans

Passionate about Internet and cranes, Maarten Zijlmans founded He is the main editor with the goal of making CraneMag the #1 online cranes magazine.

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