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Case Histories

Pulp mill in Uruguay

Uruguay pulp mill – Autumn 2012

A new state-of-the-art mill was under construction in Uruguay to satisfy market demand for pulp. The project was being built on the waterfront to provide efficient transport links for the import of raw materials and the export of products. It included a new port and a road to connect it to the country’s road network.  The large site allowed multiple construction activities to take place simultaneously using thousands of workers from several countries. 

Charles Taylor worked with the project’s management team, insurers and brokers providing risk engineering reports and, where appropriate, recommendations.

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Multi-national reviews 

Multi-national reviews – Autumn 2012

Managing risks produced by a multi-national can be hampered by the problems of obtaining an organisation-wide perspective. Charles Taylor undertook a global survey programme of paper manufacturing and secure-printing premises.

It encompassed raw paper manufacture, chemical processing, utilities, traditional/ state-of-the-art printing techniques and physical/product security. In the early days in the programme regional differences in the approach to risk were being identified. 

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Mining Indonesia 

 Mining Indonesia – Autumn 2012 

Vehicles used in open cast mining cost a considerable sum. Vehicle safety management has come a long way in recent years. Comprehensive safety systems, vehicle maintenance systems and driver awareness/wellbeing programmes are used to deliver optimum safety performance. 

As part of a study, Charles Taylor was able to offer advice on international best-practice in the areas of driver fatigue and anti-collision systems as well as some behavioural initiatives directed specifically at the drivers. 

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Risk study Libya 

Risk study Libya – Autumn 2012

Libya declared itself “liberated” on 23rd October 2011.  Charles Taylor surveys have been carried out in areas that had exchanged sides several times during the period of unrest in 2011. On the way from the airport, at first it can be hard to see that the country has been at war. Away from the built up areas, blown up tanks, burnt out mobile phone masts and the occasional distorted electricity pylon can be seen. Large amounts of exploded and unexploded ordnance have been found in areas where the fighting took place but the physical damage is often not as severe as may have been anticipated – although almost everywhere, anything which is portable and of value has often been stolen.  Power outages are reducing, but there are still incidents of fighting between various militia groups in parts of the country and, as the security team who worked with us and had been based in the country for six months said – “There are still some areas that would be inadvisable to visit”. Charles Taylor is often asked to carry out surveys in areas which may involve higher risk and would be happy to discuss requirements with you. 

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Port in Colombia 

Port in Colombia – Autumn 2012

The on-going rise in the use of containers for international trade is having a major impact on ports around the world. Traditional methods of moving cargo are being replaced by ever more efficient container handling equipment which requires significant investment. Dockside buildings are being removed to make way for open storage areas and berths are being adapted and expanded to cope with ever larger vessels. 

Security technology at ports is becoming increasingly sophisticated particularly where narcotic smuggling is rife. Technology is also being used to control the movement of vehicles and containers. Care is required to avoid disruption resulting from the failure of automated management systems. Charles Taylor regularly surveys ports and terminals across the world.

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Sour gas processing  

Sour gas processing – Autumn 2012

Low concentrations of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) normally only a few 10s of ppm, are relatively common in oil and gas production but in some fields high concentrations require special measures for safe operation. Charles Taylor has surveyed a number of offshore and onshore facilities processing gas which contains concentrations of H2S of over 10%, commonly referred to as sour gas. 

For sour gas, special construction materials must be used making Positive Materials Identification (PMI) essential for all material in contact with process fluids (including welding rods). H2S detectors are also required in addition to detectors for flammable gases. Since H2S can interfere with some types of flammable gas detectors, increased on-site maintenance may be required which will be counter to the general desire to reduce staff working time in areas exposed to H2S. 

As far as possible, process designers of onshore plant segregate the high H2S parts of the process from other facilities, such as utilities, offices, workshops and other areas of high occupancy. These areas are normally sited, as far as possible, on the upwind side of the plant. Gas dispersion modelling identifies the safe distance for occupied areas and existing public facilities such as roads. This is not so easy to achieve offshore where the footprint of the platform is minimised to reduce cost. Ideally sour gas facilities would be unoccupied and remotely operated but frequent visits for routine maintenance and other reasons are still likely to be a needed. Personnel working in sour gas facilities require training in the use of breathing apparatus even for a single visit, plus periodic refresher training when they return. 

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Aden Refinery 

Aden Refinery – Autumn 2011

Despite the unrest, the refinery in Little Aden in Yemen has remained fully operational. Processes and technology have remained largely unchanged for several decades. Committed staff are very familiar with processes and procedures. International experience has resulted in the reduction of risks. Charles Taylor completed a survey of the refinery with a rapid turnaround of the report. 

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Kenya Ports 

Kenya Ports – Autumn 2011  

Charles Taylor has undertaken a liability survey of Mombasa port owned by Kenya Ports Authority. Container traffic for the east African countries it serves has been increasing and new handling equipment requires well-trained operators to ensure accidents are minimised. 

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Oil field construction Iraq

Oil field construction Iraq – Autumn 2011

Charles Taylor has undertook a programme of risk engineering for a plant being built at a rapid rate by a Chinese contractor in Iraq. The plant was designed to receive oil well products and will separate oil and gas. 

In operation, the oil will be pumped to coastal terminals and the gas will be used for power generation. The contractor is working with a largely Chinese workforce but with a number of staff of other nationalities. A high level of security is required from the point of arrival in Baghdad through to eventual departure. Around the construction site and accommodation security includes ditches, fences, barricades and check points. 

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East European wind park 

East European wind park – Autumn 2011 

Damage to wind parks most commonly results from mechanical failure, poor design or construction. The damage in this case resulted from transient high voltages circulating in two phases of the distribution network after the loss of the star point earthing resistor connection. Damage occurred to the substation protection systems including protection voltage transformers (as shown in the photograph). Circuit breaker and connection cables between turbines and substation were also damaged. 

Understanding why this damage occurred required a detailed analysis of what happens to three phase systems under fault conditions. After careful investigation it was possible to tie together electrical theory with the damaged items. In a case such as this it is important to understand the role that electrical protection systems and equipment play in the operation of generator systems. 

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Cement production in Pakistan  

Cement production in Pakistan – Autumn 2011

Pakistan’s largest cement factory by volume installed waste heat boilers and a steam turbine to further improve energy efficiency and reduce electricity imports from the grid. The original plant, which was a joint venture with the Canadian government, was commissioned in 1956 and has gradually been added to. It was built in a remote location as part of a new industrial area to make use of local coal stocks. Older plants at the site use wet cement technology and the latest use dry technology with preheat (as shown in the photograph). 

Charles Taylor surveyed the plant as part of a programme covering cement plants, power plants, an oil jetty, a car plant and several polyethylene terephthalate (PET and fibre) plants. The survey programme was undertaken for one insurer to maximise the benefit from travel costs and time. 

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Telecoms in Iraq 

Telecoms in Iraq – Autumn 2011

Charles Taylor carried out a survey programme of mobile phone transmission stations in Iraq such as that shown in the photograph. 

Sites have to be self-sufficient in power. Careful design is essential when diesel tanks and batteries are stored near to electrical equipment. 

For more information contact: Doug.scott@Charles


Project re-start 

Project re-start – Autumn 2011

Sometimes circumstances dictate that projects are halted at short notice without the possibility of putting in place protective measures to preserve what has been built. During a survey of a partially completed gas plant being restarted in Nigeria, problems were seen with intrusion of vegetation and foundation movement as well as corrosion in places. The intended utilisation of the plant has also changed requiring a complex re-design process. 

Documentation was poor or unavailable. Due to continuing civil unrest, access was by helicopter rather than road. When completed the plant will provide additional gas supplies into the Nigerian National Grid. 

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Solar manufacturing in the Far East

Solar manufacturing in the Far East- Summer 2009

A major manufacturing facility was built in the Far East for the production of wafers, cells and modules for the solar industry. A programme of risk engineering for the project was undertaken by Charles Taylor for the insurers and reinsurers of the project policy. The state-of-the-art plant commenced production in stages starting in 2010. Equipment and components were obtained from across the world requiring careful management of suppliers to ensure everything arrives in time.

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Afghanistan power 

Afghanistan power - Summer 2009

After careful security planning Charles Taylor completed a survey of a power plant under construction near Kabul.

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Gold mining in the Caribbean 

Gold mining in the Caribbean - Summer 2009

Charles Taylor surveyed a gold mine in the Caribbean  that has become fully operational after the construction phase was completed ahead of schedule. It was optimising its ore extraction and processing facilities. 

A mine of this type usually contains a wide combination of risks involving  utility and processing equipment as well as the mining operation itself.  The survey had to consider boilers, diesel turbines and fuel storage areas. Process facilities included sulphide processing plant producing copper concentrate and an oxide processing plant producing silver and gold ingots. The fact that gold was being extracted in a remote area required a considerable security effort. Surface water management is also vital in areas where tropical storms can produce high volumes of run off.  Surveyors need a wide range of experience, not only in mining, to undertake a comprehensive risk analysis.

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Offshore surveys 

Offshore surveys - Summer 2009

There is a growing requirement for surveys of offshore locations. Surveys of onshore hydrocarbon facilities, oil refineries, gas plants and petrochemical facilities are widespread and routine for oil underwriters. Many hazards in offshore plants are similar to those in the onshore industry. An additional dimension is the risk of damage to the structural integrity of the platform. Causes of damage include extreme weather conditions and collisions. Conducting an offshore survey is more complex than a survey for a typical refinery.  Much of the information the surveyor needs is not generally available on the platform and meetings are therefore needed at the onshore support centre. The logistics of offshore surveys are also more complex than onshore with key company personnel often being difficult to track down and space on helicopters to and from the platforms being limited. With careful planning, it is possible to arrange comprehensive offshore surveys without incurring excessive costs.

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Fertiliser plants in South Asia 

Fertiliser plants in South Asia - Summary 2009

The production from natural gas of ammonia/urea for fertiliser is vital to maintain efficient agricultural production. Charles Taylor completed a programme of surveys of several plants in South Asia. These are run by highly qualified and experienced staff.  The level of loss prevention knowledge is such that they are regularly used for training operators from other plants including from the Middle East. Staff are also in demand to work in other plants. 

Historically North America and Europe have been seen as the main regions for fertiliser plant operator training. With the sustained achievement of industry best practice standards at the plants surveyed, this view is now changing. 

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EMLs for chemicals complex 

EMLs for chemicals complex - Summer 2009

Charles Taylor completed a study of the EMLs (Estimated Maximum Losses) for a series of chemical plants in South America. The plants which are contained within two complexes manufacture Methanol, Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE). EMLs are one of the cornerstones of any insurance policy since they attempt to define the maximum amount of indemnity an insurer will be called upon to pay towards a loss triggered by a single event. Obtaining a realistic estimate is important in determining the level of reinsurance that is purchased by Insurers. The calculation of EMLs requires a thorough understanding of the technology and processes used at a site including how an event at one plant can impact adjacent plants. 

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Factory fire - the insulation 

Factory fire - the insulation - Summer 2009

A major fire in a factory was the subject of an investigation by Charles Taylor. Having started in a contained area at one end of the plant, the fire rapidly spread across the roof of the building dropping burning debris onto the interior of the factory below causing numerous secondary fires which resulted in extensive damage. Restoring production at the factory was expected to take months owing to the need to replace large parts of the structure as well as the equipment within. 

The investigation by Charles Taylor indicated that the most probable cause was an overheated fan which dropped sparks onto rolls of paper in a store room. Flames from the burning paper ignited insulation. Although today this type of foam plastic insulation would not be used for new buildings there are still many factories similar to the one that was destroyed. 

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A big bang but just how big? 

A big bang but just how big? – Autumn 2007

Charles Taylor has completed an in-depth study of a major metropolitan gas distribution system for the owner and operator.  To understand the possible consequences of a major gas leakage incident the company involved commissioned the study from Charles Taylor.  Apart from examining different disaster scenarios and their consequences, the study also examined the inter-relationships between the gas supplier and its customers in the event of a service interruption.  This had to be undertaken without reference being made to those customers so as not to alarm them.  The results of the study allow the gas distributors to evaluate their possible liability exposure, the need for modifications to the distribution configuration to make it more robust and check the adequacy of insurance coverage and contingency plans.  

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Turbine losses 

Turbine losses – Autumn 2007

Although many problems with gas turbines have been ironed out, new models are continually being developed with new features to in-crease efficiency.  Each change brings with it the danger of unexpected con-sequences and knock on problems. The combination of complex, costly and sensitive components means that a slight malfunction can rapidly escalate into a major loss.  Control and safety systems are increasingly more sophisticated but problems still occur. Turbine claims in many parts of the world continue to provide a steady stream of work. Taking advantage of the availability of natural gas, the number of turbines being installed in numerous countries continues to grow, both in single cycle and combined cycle. 

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It's not only insurers that worry about risks 

It's not only insurers that worry about risks - Autumn 2007

Banks and financial institutions are increasingly demanding risk surveys before they are prepared to finance projects or acquisitions. Owners also often want risk surveys under-taken considering all risks to which they are exposed not just those that their insurance policy will cover.  Charles Taylor has developed a variety of tools for such surveys.  No longer are risk surveys used only by insurers. When a major loss occurs, even when insurers are involved, the uninsured element of the loss can exceed what is insured.  Uninsured losses include the cost of management time, damage reputation, or investor’s risk profile, negative pressure on share price and lost business opportunities.  Directors worry about risk that cause these losses and need to aware of the steps being taken to manage them. Information overload can be a real problem which is why a concise, well presented report can be extremely valuable in focussing on what is important. 

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Green Energy 

Green Energy – August 2007

The expansion of green energy generation facilities has resulted in the introduction and development of a wide variety of new technology and has brought with it new claims and risks. Charles Taylor has been dealing with claims involving lightning strikes gearboxes and control systems on wind turbines for a number of years.  Wind turbines tend to be located in unusual environments on hill tops or offshore. Access to such remote locations can be difficult. 

This can push up the cost of repairs and make failure investigations challenging. Turbine MW output ratings have increased dramatically, control systems have become more complex and extrapolating technology some-times creates problems.   Risk surveys now have to consider the impact of carbon credits on Business Interruption. As waste to energy projects and biofuel plants increase in size similar problems of scaling up are also beginning to appear. 

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Downtown deep excavations 

Downtown deep excavations – Autumn 2007

Vancouver’s new metro system made good progress with the first bore of the two tunnels being completed more or less on schedule. Deep station construction also moved forwards. Much of the work took place in heavily built up areas with considerable care taken to avoid damaging services and buildings.  Early problems with water inflow during tunnelling were overcome. Slower than expected early rates of progress were reversed as the TBM came closer to the Waterfront.  Elevated guideway sections and cut and cover tunnels all made good progress. The second tunnel bore was underway but tunnellers knew what to expect. The main focus of the project then moved to systems installation track laying and station construction. Charles Taylor has provided risk engineering to the project insurers. 

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Motorways – Autumn 2007

The European Motorway building programme provided a source of varied assignments for Charles Taylor. Claims associated with construction problem have kept adjusters busy and risk engineering on the widening of one of UK’s busiest sections of motorway (handling 160,000 vehicles per day) has provided survey work.


 Arctic mining 

Arctic mining - Spring 2007  

Charles Taylor was asked to survey a coal mine in the far north of Scandinavia. At 78° latitude, it is the most northerly permanently inhabited place on earth and is only 1000 km from the North Pole. Hazards from mining operations generally include major underground explosions, tailings dam failures, subsidence, flooding and power failures which are particularly problematic where drainage pumps are needed to be operating constantly. 

Special features of this operation included its remote location, severe weather conditions, with winter temperatures as low as –30°C, and 24 hour darkness for 4 months of the year. The survey was undertaken by Jeff Ashman who worked for British Coal for a number of years before joining Charles Taylor as a risk engineer. 

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Prague airport  

Prague airport - Spring 2007

Passenger numbers passing through Prague Airport have been increasing rapidly as the airport has expanded with the construction of a major new terminal completed in 2005. Charles Taylor was commissioned to survey the airport. 

Airports can be exposed to a variety of natural perils including, in the case of Prague Airport, winter storms. 

Risk surveys need to consider incidents which can disrupt the airport’s business as well as protections to the physical infrastructure. 

Fuel storage and handling facilities need particular care even though for a major international airport fire fighting provision has to be to a high standard to meet regulatory requirements. Both property and aviation expertise can be found within the Charles Taylor group. 

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Hydrocarbons in Iran, Pakistan and Nigeria 

 Hydrocarbons in Iran, Pakistan and Nigeria - Spring 2007

Demand for process plant surveys continues strongly particularly in Africa and Asia. Several locations surveyed featured new construction or upgrading of existing facilities, resulting in an increase in the level of hazard. Special precautions are necessary during construction because activities such as welding can provide an ignition source for gas escapes from operating plant and construction workers are not always familiar with the hazards associated with operating plant. Normal construction incidents such as toppling cranes, dropped loads, impact damage and trench collapse can cause pipe ruptures and the release of hydrocarbons. Good communications between all are essential in these situations. Charles Taylor surveys continue to prove popular with underwriters, providing analysis of property exposures, operations and maintenance conditions and fire protections. Each survey also includes a KRRIS assessment. 

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Port of Bridgetown 

Port of Bridgetown - Spring 2007

During the 2007 Cricket World Cup the Port of Bridgetown was in the spotlight as it was located right next to Barbados’s World Cup Final Cricket Ground. It accommodated a number of cruise ships which acted as floating hotels for cricket fans. In advance of this event the port’s insurers decided that a new risk survey would be beneficial. The port’s business had grown rapidly in recent years owing to the expansion of its capability to cope with visits from cruise liners. 

Being in the Caribbean it is naturally exposed to hurricanes although Barbados has avoided most of the severe events. The presence of large numbers of tourists in transit creates potential liabilities and careful management of public liability risks is important. Ports are one of the many types of facility that Charles Taylor surveys regularly. 

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Tunnelling in Canada 

Tunnelling in Canada - Spring 2007

Tunnelling work was undertaken for the Canada Line Transit system in Vancouver for which Charles Taylor provided risk engineering services. Survey visits were conducted every 6 months. These provided insurers with regular updates on progress and risk management. This included reviewing compliance with the requirements of the Joint Code for Risk Management of Tunnel Works produced by the British Tunnelling Society and the Association of British Insurers. 

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Turkish car plant 

Turkish car plant - Spring 2007

Jeff Ashman conducted a survey of a fully automated car assembly plant in Turkey. It produces more than 80,000 units per year using a variety of state of the art robotic assembly systems, automated painting and logistics. In addition to normal production hazards, the area is a zone of high seismic activity. Its purpose-built buildings were designed with significant earthquake resistance using special foundations. 

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Central/South American Telecoms

Central/South American Telecoms - Spring 2007

Charles Taylor surveyed the facilities operated by one of Central and South America's biggest mobile phone service providers have recently been surveyed in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil & Guatemala. The facilities provide mobile signals for huge numbers of customers. Locations included switching centres, masts and warehouses. Language and logistical support for the survey was provided by Charles Taylor’s Mexico City office. Fire exposure, natural perils exposure, operating procedures and maintenance were all reviewed and analysed. Some facilities were in zones of high seismic risk and security was of importance at most installations. Although the operators’ buildings were relatively compact they contained large concentrations of valuable equipment. 

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Risk engineering Canada 

Charles Taylor undertook a four year project to provide risk engineering survey reports on the new Canada line transit system being built for the city of Vancouver. The route runs from Vancouver airport and the city of Richmond to the waterfront in downtown Vancouver. Bored and cut and cover tunnels are being constructed as well as elevated guideways and two river crossing bridges (piling for one river crossing shown above). The main contractor was SNC Lavalin from Montreal and insurance covers Contractors All Risks and Delay in Start Up. The project was completed in time for the Winter Olympics in 2010. Risk engineering is a technique increasingly demanded by insurers to focus their clients’ attention on sound risk management practices. 

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Gas facilities in Nigeria & Pakistan 

Gas facilities in Nigeria & Pakistan – Summer 2006

The gas industry worldwide is expanding fast with the development of both natural and associated gas facilities. Charles Taylor has undertaken a number of surveys in Nigeria and Pakistan on onshore facilities. 

Survey work is made complex by the changing security situation which can sometimes result in significant travel delays and restrictions on the time available for survey visits. Standards of operation and maintenance are very variable and sometimes higher than might be expected.

For more information


Loss estimation studies 

Loss estimation studies – Summer 2006 

Loss estimation is a fundamental part of survey work. For property risks in the petrochemical industry estimations often refer to Vapour Cloud Explosion calculations or various scenarios of fire loss together with machinery breakdown and business interruption analysis. The latter can be exceedingly complex. One assignment involved the analysis of the consequences to customers of a sudden loss of supply from a major utility. It considered lost production and potential dam-age to customers’ assets. The same study also required a detailed liability assessment. 

Charles Taylor personnel from the UK and North America collaborated on the study, combining technical expertise with an understanding of commercial and taxation issues. Collection of information was complex, requiring analysis of financial reports from a wide variety of sources since the client did not want its customers to be aware that a study of possible disaster scenarios was underway. 

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Power and Petrochemical plans in Iran 

Power and Petrochemical plans in Iran – Summer 2006  

The pace of construction of power and petrochemical plants in Iran has been impressive. Charles Taylor was involved in several programmes of survey work of projects under construction for major international reinsurers. With support from Charles Taylor’s associates CHARLES TAYLOR IGS Kish visits were made throughout the country looking at gas fired and closed cycle power plants as well as gas plants Charles Taylor completed a risk analysis project involving an oilfield development in an area containing large amounts of unexploded munitions. Analysis focussed upon the residual risks that remained for construction companies building facilities in areas where conventional munitions clearance operations had been completed. The project was undertaken with assistance from Royal Military College of Science at Cranfield University in UK. 

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Southend Pier Fire 

 Southend Pier Fire – Summer 2006 

The highly publicised fire that caused severe damage to the historic pier structure resulted in work for the engineering team assessing the severity of the structural damage and providing advice on the likely time and cost of work to restore the pier to its pre-fire damage condition. The pier was constructed in several stages and has been subject to previous damage and remedial works. Restoration was time consuming and required considerable care to ensure that the repaired structure was constructed using the same techniques and materials as were used originally. 

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Toll Road South East Asia 

 Toll Road South East Asia – Summer 2006 

Risk analysis projects have been undertaken on a diverse range of entities including this toll road in South East Asia. A project to examine both technical and business risk was undertaken as a joint project with Taylor Risk Consulting's Dallas office. The project reviewed the physical and natural perils hazards that could impact the toll road’s revenue streams.

Toll Road South East Asia – Summer 2006 2 

These included earthquake and volcanic activity. The area is also subject to occasional terrorist activity and some viaducts provide shelters for communities that have been established over many years in both makeshift and more permanent structures. The presence of such communities introduces unconventional fire hazards.



Serious pipeline damage can result in claims of millions of dollars, loss of life and environmental disasters. Charles Taylor’s expertise was demonstrated at Geopipe 2004 the International Conference focussing on Terrain Geohazard Challenges Facing Onshore Oil and Gas Pipelines. The presentation entitled “Pipeline Insurance—technical aspects of underwriting and claims” covered a range of risks from storms to landslides and in diverse terrain ranging from the deserts to the arctic. Pipeline claims handling was also covered using case histories. 

Charles Taylor is regularly involved in the adjustment of pipeline claims for material damage, business interruption and liabilities flowing from incidents. Pipelines risk surveys are also a regular feature of the survey team’s workload. 

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Rotating machinery

Rotating machinery - Summer 2005  

Risks associated with rotating machinery continue to figure large in the risk surveys and claims support work that our engineers have been undertaking in recent months. Gas and steam turbines, compressors, pumps and generators and their operating procedures have all been the subject of close scrutiny. Operators do not always correctly interpret what control systems and alarms are telling them. 

Foreign bodies find their way into machines on a regular basis often soon after start up or a maintenance shut down, despite the use of control procedures designed to manage every step. Manufacturers continue to refine their designs to squeeze ever higher performance out of their units occasionally with unanticipated problems. 

Maintenance and operating procedures are not always updated to reflect operational changes such as the composition of the fluid being pumped or characteristics of fuel being burnt. Time and again the importance of comparing de-fined operating and maintenance procedures with actual practices is underestimated. A review of these factors forms part of our standard survey programme. 

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Design reviews 

Design reviews - Summer 2005

Design reviews can minimise the asset value at risk if a catastrophic event, such as a vapour cloud explosion or high pressure vessel rupture were to occur. They can also ensure that fire and process related protections are appropriate. Layout can have a marked impact on minimising business interruption following an accident. Careful siting of piperacks, storage facilities and utilities can impact on downtime. 

Appoints by hydrocarbon producers have focussed on the risks associated with major developments/upgrading projects. Studies involve analysis of the process facilities, layout, utilities, storage plus fire and gas detection and firefighting systems. 

For more information contact:


Liability loss estimates

Liability loss estimates - Summer 2005

Increasingly chemical and petrochemical companies are requesting liability surveys focussed on the identification and assessment of hazards. Recently we were asked to quantify estimated maximum liability loss exposures to help establish appropriate levels of insurance protection. 

Following an initial site visit, the first stage was to develop a loss scenario such as a major explosion or toxic gas release. Secondly, the effect on surrounding exposures was assessed, including physical effects on property and businesses (including business interruption), and health effects on personnel. Thirdly, these effects were quantified in terms of property damage, business interruption, and compensation indemnities for casualties. 

The main difficulties arise in determining how people will react in different circumstances. Physiological effects can be determined from lethal toxicity probit equations and toxicology monographs but people’s response in a crisis is unpredictable as is the number of people exposed to danger at any time. For example the absence or presence of a full train close to a hazard can make a huge difference. There are of course huge regional disparities between the average cost of a fatality depending partly on the litigious nature of the country. Additional costs may arise through punitive awards. 

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A rational approach to fire protections 

A rational approach to fire protections - Summer 2005

Whilst underwriters might like to see high levels of fire protection provided throughout all facilities there is an economic balance to be struck between the cost of fire protection and the reduction in risk. In our experience this balance is not always recognised and there is a danger of providing excessive fire protection which makes very little difference to the overall level of fire hazard. In other cases we have noted reliance on the use of portable fire fighting equipment without consideration of the staffing levels and training of fire fighters. The level of fire protection should reflect a number of factors: the risk to life, the likely effectiveness of fire protection equipment and the resultant loss. Within Charles Taylor, our advice is aimed at providing the maximum level of reduction in risk within practical budgetary and resource. 

For more information contact: doug.scott@Charles


Risk surveys far and wide 

Risk surveys far and wide - Summer 2005

Risk surveys far and wide - Summer 2005 2

Survey activity has continued apace in locations far and wide involving many different types of risk. Locations include Algeria, Iran, Nepal, Mexico, Dubai, Bahrain, Pakistan and Germany. 

The types of risk surveyed have also continued to broaden including power plants, petrochemical plants, pipelines, offshore oil facilities and construction projects. The combination of complete independence and the resources of a multinational plc has proved attractive to clients. Many sites are not easily accessible. Some surveys such as for this hydro-electric power plant in Nepal are in very remote locations.


Ship-unloader collapse 

Charles Taylor was called in to investigate the collapse of an 800 ton ship-unloader in Italy.  During erection the ship-unloader toppled forwards.  The resulting damage to the structural framework and most of its components required it to be totally dismantled and rebuilt. 

Although the permanent design of the unloader was perfectly satisfactory insufficient thought had been given to the stability of the unloader during certain stages in the erection process leading to the sudden collapse when its bogeys became unstable.


Energy and Petrochemical Surveys 

Energy and Petrochemical Surveys – Winter 2003

Charles Taylor Technical’ s risks team continues to receive a wide variety of instructions to look at plants and installations around the globe. Recent surveys include: 

  • Ethylene Cracker with downstream polyethylene plant
  • Gasoline and Diesel Fuel terminals
  • Bi-Axially Orientated Polypropylene (BOPP) plant – (crisp packet plastic to the non-chemist)
  • Offshore rigs
  • Pipelines
  • Geothermal power plants
  • LNG liquefaction plant
  • Marine Terminals
  • Marine Terminal Liability
  • General Liability
  • Oil Refineries
  • Oil Production facilities (onshore and offshore including crude terminal and export facility.

 Energy and Petrochemical Surveys – Winter 2003 2 

Assignments have been undertaken in: Alaska, Albania, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Libya, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines and Qatar. The assignments in Mexico have been a team effort involving Charles Taylor’ offices in London, Houston and Mexico.


Earthquake in Maldives 


Two earthquakes in the middle of the Indian Ocean recently shook luxury bedrooms on stilts in an island hotel in the Maldives causing cracking to the walls. “This is the first time I have had to undertake an inspection in my trunks” reports Charles Taylor’s technical director Richard Radevsky. “One minute I was told not to tread on a sea cucumber and the next I almost tripped over a small shark swimming in the shallows.” 


Landslip in Spain 


A house on a steeply sloping coastal site suffered severe subsidence and landslip when the water in its swimming pool was released during the night. A failed drain valve was blamed. Remedial works included slope stabilisation and rebuilding of the pool surround was well as clearing the slipped soil which flowed down the hillside onto a local road. 

Many people buy holiday homes in Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and other locations around the Mediterranean with the dream of relaxation in the sun. It is easy to overlook that holiday homes are no less likely to suffer from problems that houses in UK. Particular care is needed on steeply sloping sites where the view may be wonderful but the stability of the slope needs careful thought. 

Swimming pools on terraces in front of the house add to the attraction but can pose a significant engineering challenge to ensure they are stable. Sometimes old olive groves are developed for holiday homes. Where these have been terraced with ancient dry stone walls it is easy to believe these walls are a permanent fixture. They are however very low tech, low cost and expected to fail every now and again because they were so easy to repair. Not the sort of structure on which to support a modern house.


Explosions in tunnel system 


A multiple underground grain dust explosion caused extensive structural damage to a 3 km network of tunnels in a grain handling facility in Argentina. The shock wave from the first explosion appears to have thrown dust into the air in other locations which subsequently exploded producing a devastating chain reaction. The expansive forces were sufficient to rip open tunnels close to the surface but where they were more deeply buried it shattered the reinforced concrete tunnel lining. Wide-spread and severe damage also occurred to belt conveying equipment that had been operating in the tunnels. 

The property and business interruption claims were handled by a Charles Taylor team from London, Mexico and US. Work included structural assessments of the damage.



Business Interruption 


Many companies have a limited understanding of their business interruption loss potential, and seek advice from Charles Taylor on the scenarios that could occur and the consequences that could follow. We have recently helped a major US company review its business interruption exposures for a variety of situations, as part of its insurance renewal. 

This process brings into sharp focus the complex nature of such exposure. Consider these examples which Charles Taylor has encountered: 

  • Companies rarely allow for multi-site incidents, caused simultaneously by earthquake or flood in more than one of their locations 
  • Oil and gas companies regularly use pipelines and terminals they do not own. Their scope to control or even influence events after an incident is therefore limited. 
  • The effects of infrastructure damage are often ignored – imagine the collapse of a bridge over which raw materials arrive and finished goods are despatched. 
  • The effect of loss of power or water and other utilities must be considered. 

A small property damage loss at a critical pinch point can result in a very large claim for consequential loss. Modern business conditions make the calculation of such estimates extremely demanding. Charles Taylor has earned a good reputation for its expertise in this area.


The Human Element

When Charles Taylor was called to survey a chemical plant in the developing world earlier in 2002 we found, as is very common in such cases, that a straightforward review of the production and fire protection facilities was not enough. A proper analysis of risk goes beyond this to provide an indication of the interaction between human factors and equipment. 

It is not unusual to find that oil refineries and chemical plants in developing countries are older and have lower levels of fire protection than many plants in Europe. But the work force is often much larger, with shift teams several times the size of equivalent European teams – and every individual is a walking fire and gas detection system. 

In addition, in many developing countries, the plant offers the only employment for many miles around. Personnel are therefore highly experienced in operating and maintaining the plant. A culture of shared ownership is created, where employees are concerned to see that the plant works well. Whilst modern maintenance techniques might not be in use, equipment is often older, less efficient, but more robust than state of the art equipment. 

Whilst the negative features of lack of detection systems, ageing workforces and elderly equipment cannot be denied, a good assessment of the risk must include the counter balancing points.


Latent Defect Insurance 


Technical Services deals with claims against latent defects insurance policies. Such policies are competing against NHBC guarantees with which everyone who has ever bought a new house in UK will be familiar. The insured house does not, however, have to be newly built for latent defects policies to be applicable. Policies are often taken out where an existing house has to undergo major structural works. One case involved a house with pre-cast reinforced concrete walls which had to be replaced with brick cavity walls. Here problems developed with internal support to the first floor. Another involved by a newly constructed house built in a steep valley where there was evidence of landslip. The area was at one time used for industrial purposes with evidence of an old hydropower system with buried culverts and disused reservoirs. Using in house civil and water expertise Technical Services was able to provide to insurers with an engineering analysis of the situation as well as analysis of policy issues.




Subsidence claims remain part of Technical Services’ workload. An interesting example was underpinning a 17th century listed ex-school house in London’s Docklands. The site was located next to what was a churchyard containing the remains of hundreds of plague victims. Special arrangements have had to be made in case excavations uncovered further human remains beneath the house being underpinned. To date however only animal bones have been encountered. 

Structural work was undertaken on a French Chateau which has suffered the same type of damage as is common in houses in southern England. The soil in much of France is similar to that in UK and is just as susceptible to drought conditions. 

Technical Services specialises in dealing with subsidence cases that are complex. Where houses are historic or listed, demolition is not an option. Careful co-ordination is needed with listing authorities whose job is to preserve old and interesting buildings. The understanding of the engineering aspects of subsidence and how these interrelate with insurance coverage has been built up by Technical Services engineers during more than 25 years experience.


Major structural damage due to explosion 


Technical Services provided support to Charles Taylor’s adjusting operations in Latin America Division which is dealing with a dust explosion in a grain handling facility in northern Argentina. 

The facility had 3 kilometres of under-ground tunnels containing grain conveyors and a number of large reinforced concrete structures above ground. The forces of multiple explosions caused severe structural damage to a tower with seven above-ground and five below-ground storeys. The severity of the damage to the underground tunnel network was assessed by Technical Services Director Richard Radevsky, a Chartered Civil Engineer. 

Key Contact

Richard Radevsky
Director – Charles Taylor Technical (London)

T: +44 20 7015 2067
M: +44 7860 482 741

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