HES Botlek Tank Terminal

Spectacular Tank Transport in the Port of Rotterdam

Rotterdam, 19 July 2019 – A spectacular feat of transport by water in the Port of Rotterdam: this week, six tanks left the SJR Tank Construction production hall, where they were built for client HES Botlek Tank Terminal, and headed by sheerleg for the terminal where they will be used for biofuel storage. The video gives a good impression of this feat.

YouTube video

A thirty-metre-high tank hanging in the apex of a sheerleg was no everyday sight last Thursday and Friday on the Nieuwe Waterweg. A total of six tanks covered the route from tank builder, SJR Group on Heijplaat to HES Botlek Tank Terminal (HBTT) in Botlekhaven.


Transporting such giant structures by road is not an option, so they need to be transported by water. An extremely strong floating crane, or ‘sheerleg’, is used for this; in this case the HEBO Lift-9. Quite some power is needed too, as each tank weighs 110,000 kilogrammes. After that, it’s an hour and a half sail to HES Botlek Tank Terminal where another special vehicle is waiting. This Self-Propelled Modular Transporter (SPMT) is a gigantic trailer supported by a huge number of wheels. On arrival at their final destination, a crawler crane lifts each tank onto the foundations, after which they can be connected.

Fine tuning

It was a considerable logistical feat as various obstacles needed to be overcome en route. The first was in the production hall where the tanks, some 12 metres in diameter, had been welded together in recent months, Project Manager Anne Vonk Noordegraaf from SJR Group explained. ‘At thirty metres high, these tanks are pretty big. They only just fitted through our hall door opening. With the structure for transportation around it, we only had a few centimetres to play with. It needed a lot of fine tuning!’

140 Olympic swimming pools

The six new tanks have resulted in HBTT expanding its tank capacity by some 20,000 cubic metres in one go. ‘This means we’ll soon have a total storage capacity of 510,000 cubic metres’, stated Coen Janssen from HBTT. That’s comparable to around 140 Olympic swimming pools. The new tanks are very much needed as the demand for storage in the port is high, stated Coen. ‘Particularly for biofuels, for which these new tanks are intended. Supply and distribution takes place via vessel, truck or train, after which we store the ‘liquid bulk’ temporarily for the client. Follow-on transport also takes place by water, road or rail.’

Rotterdam tank producer

The design for the tanks particularly took the storage of biofuels into account. ‘For instance, they contain a heating coil that prevents the contents from coagulating’, explained Anne. Now that the tanks are in situ, SJR Group has started on the final part of the delivery: connecting and testing the tanks. ‘We do this using water, checking for such things as leaks and tilting.’ Once this process has been concluded, the tanks will be ready for use.

‘They’ve been installed right next to the motorway – I’ll be able to enjoy looking at them when I drive by’, stated Anne: ‘It’s a fantastic advertisement for us as Rotterdam tank producer.’

Source: Port of Rotterdam – Online Port Newspaper