Ben Schrader was retained to review an incident that occurred on a processing unit at a petroleum refinery located in the western United States. This incident involved the failure of equipment that resulted in the catastrophic loss of containment and release of hydrocarbons. The refinery had previously undergone a change in ownership, resulting in the original owner (who initially designed, constructed, started up and operated the refinery) selling to another company (current owner). no longer owning and operating the refinery when the incident actually occurred. The review evaluated whether the processing unit was engineered, operated, inspected, and maintained in accordance with its design parameters, relevant industry practices, and applicable regulations; both by the original owner and the current owner. An examination was made of the pertinent unit operation, production, inspection and maintenance records, which were then compared with design specifications, throughout the period of the unit’s operation.
During the analysis, it was determined that over the years, both owners modified the unit’s original design in order to increase production capacity. Changes to operating conditions included increasing flow rates and raising temperatures. These changes resulted in the process equipment being operated in a manner more severe than originally intended. The evaluation included reviewing industry standards and practices and government regulations that were in affect at the time of each change. Following the evaluation, Mr. Schrader was able to determine which of the owners was responsible for making changes, evaluating the risks associated with the changes, and addressing any increased risks that led to the incident. His findings and opinions were then presented in an expert report which proved of assistance in reaching an acceptable settlement of this matter.
Ben Schrader was retained as an expert in four parallel arbitrations under ICC, CRCICA, ICSID and UNCITRAL rules in relation to the breach of two commercial contractual, and two investment-treaty obligations incurred in connection with a Middle Eastern gas pipeline. Mr. Schrader opined and testified on pipeline operations, specifically on pipeline security.
He developed his opinions based on decades of oil and gas industry experience, and dealing with similar types of issues throughout the Middle East and North Africa, in difficult and often hostile environments, where security was integral to the safe and continuous operation of oil and natural gas infrastructure, including pipelines, owned by national oil companies.
His opinions and testimony were important in assisting each of the arbitration tribunals assign responsibility for the relevant breach(es) of supply obligation in this long-term gas supply agreement. For instance, in one of the cases, a party was found liable in breach of the “full protection and security” standard under the US-Egypt bilateral investment treaty, which is the international law standard for which the failure to adequately protect the pipeline is most relevant. In another case, Ben was referenced, by name, in the decision on liability finding, and his expert evidence was endorsed by the Tribunal.
A sugar mill, with an associated ethanol plant, experienced an explosion and subsequent fire.
Ben Schrader was retained to evaluate independently the Business Interruption (BI) portion of an insurance claim which was based on damages related to the fire and subsequent shutdown of plant process equipment.
Relevant engineering, production, and maintenance data were examined and was followed by a site visit. The on-site visit included (1) inspecting the fields where the sugar cane was harvested, (2) observing the harvesting process, (3) assessing the cane crushing and ethanol production operations, and (4) interviewing key management and technical personnel.
Mr. Schrader utilized his knowledge concerning loss production opportunity (LPO) calculations, production facility operations, and equipment utilization and reliability to form opinions concerning any potential business interruption losses related to the fire. His findings and opinions were detailed in an expert report. During subsequent meetings between the affected parties, the case was settled.