Shutdown of a petrochemical plan


In 2007, incorrect operation of a high voltage electrical distribution network caused a total power outage that lasted several minutes in north-eastern France.

A major petrochemical site, which had several fully-loaded tanks at the time, was impacted. The duration of the power outage forced an emergency stop of production, and compelled operators to secure the equipment, and ensure the safety of the employees and surrounding population. The various production processes involve exothermic chemical reactions that necessitate complete control to avoid major incidents.

Disaster was averted thanks to the emergency power supplies that were available, but many physical damages were reported (reactors, steam crackers, steam systems, auxiliary equipment, etc.), resulting in significant operational losses.


For two years, GM Consultant led a major appraisal investigation that required the involvement of various operational units in order to calculate tangible damages, to establish causality links to the power outage, and to assess operational losses. This investigation involved more than just knowledge of chemical processes; it required many parts of the firm’s varied skill set: electrical, mechanical, and thermal expertise, assessment of intangible prejudices, etc.

These investigations made it possible to reach an amicable settlement agreement between the various parties.