Baker & O'Brien, Inc.


Industry Details

Industry Details

Additional Process Industries

Baker & O’Brien has worked on a full range of nitrogen based fertilizer projects around the world including ammonia, ammonium nitrate and urea plants.  Our experience over the past 15 years has enabled us to comprehend the fertilizer market in the world today.  Additionally, we have also worked in many other industries that are unrelated to the energy industry, e.g., pulp and paper, paint manufacturing, alumina, mining solvent extraction, cement and concrete.

Related Case Studies

Related Case Studies
Dispute Over a Flare Tip—What Constitutes Normal Wear and Tear?
An insurance claim was filed for damages to a flare when a sour gas plant experienced an unplanned shutdown caused by an electrical power interruption.  Baker & O’Brien was retained to assess whether damage to the flare tip was associated with the shutdown or was the result of wear and tear.  Our expert report, which considered the flare age, wind, and flame patterns during normal operation, and wear patterns on the welds near the tip, was submitted as part of the mediation process. Read more
Equipment Condition: Was an Insurance Claim Inflated Because of Poor Mothballing Practices?
“Mothballing”—the practice of preserving and maintaining process equipment during an extended outage—can significantly impact the time and cost to resume operations.  An insurance dispute regarding repair costs following a plant explosion.  Baker & O'Brien identified which costs were directly attributable to the incident, and which may have been related to inadequate mothballing.  Our expert report addressed the adequacy of the mothballing and its influence on equipment condition at restart, and these effects on the amount of the claim.  Read more
Factors that Contribute to the Value of a Fertilizer Plant
Years after a nitrogen fertilizer complex had been delivered to owners, the majority interest operator and its minority interest partner argued over the value of the facilities.  Baker & O’Brien evaluated the alleged plant deficiencies and assessed the extent of impairment through a review of performance guarantees, historical operations and reliability, as well as external factors impacting performance.  Our consultants’ experience serving as independent engineer on behalf of lenders for large international fertilizer projects resulted in an expeditious review of these issues. Read more


Related Experience

Related Experience
Asbestos Exposure Litigation
Assisted a manufacturer of industrial equipment in defending personal injury claims related to asbestos exposure.  Assisted in discovery, assessed the likelihood and degree of employee exposure to asbestos during maintenance activities, and reviewed equipment specifications, project histories, and maintenance records for various power generation units.  Provided opinions regarding the potential for personal injury due to asbestos exposure in the course of normal work activities.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, OSHA-related, Safety, Toxic Tort
Asphalt Market Study
Provided a financial institution with an assessment of the market for paving asphalt in California.  Study focused on current and short-term future markets and included the results of interviews with California paving grade asphalt producers, contractors, and buyers.
Business Interruption Damages Claim by Concrete Supplier
Provided an expert consultant business interruption loss estimate for damages to a concrete products producer as a result of an incident at an oil refinery.
Business Interruption, Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance
Conceptual Design of Technical Services Department
Performed a conceptual design of a Technical Services Division for a petroleum refining technology licensing company. The objective was to restructure the company's technology delivery methodology to generate improved gross margins, increase customer satisfaction and retention, and additional products and services. Advised the client on defining the critical aspects of the Technical Services Division and the best approach to designing and implementing the new group structure and function.
Project Feasibility
Defective Paint
Evaluated automotive paint and coatings data. Analyzed survey data for paint and coatings system performance when applied by a "big three" automotive manufacturer to determine liability contribution for coating failures. Required understanding of evolution of automotive paint and coating systems. Assisted in evaluation of economic damages resulting from coating application failures.
Product Quality
Dust Collection System Risk Assessment
Performed a quantitative risk assessment on a dust collection system associated with the multifolder process at a large paper products manufacturing facility. Purpose was to determine if OSHA stipulations were appropriate.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, OSHA-related, Safety
Fertilizer Project Due Diligence Assessment
In conjunction with a leading upstream consulting firm, conducted a due diligence assessment of gas resources for the purpose of developing a fertilizer complex associated with onshore and offshore gas production under development. The assignment entailed delineating the quantity and quality of gas resources available to support the prospective fertilizer project and estimating costs to deliver natural gas suitable for producing nitrogen fertilizers to the project.
Fertilizers, Offshore, Pricing, Product Quality, Project Feasibility
Agrochemicals Manufacturing
Performed due diligence for the purchase of several fertilizer plants on behalf of an investor.  These plants manufactured nitrogen fertilizers, phosphate fertilizers, methanol, and other related industrial chemicals.  Inspected company assets, assessed technology, analyzed feedstock and product markets, reviewed contracts, evaluated capital investment programs, and analyzed comparative manufacturing economics.
Fertilizers, Pricing
Manufacturing Facility and Plant Evaluation
Performed an on-site assessment of a pipe manufacturing facility to determine operational viability. Key assessments made on mechanical integrity and reliability of the process equipment, technical understanding and organizational strength of facility personnel, and related operational issues.
Physical Asset Appraisal, Project Feasibility
Paper Coating Plant Project Finance
Served as independent engineer on behalf of a major financial institution for the construction of a new $100 million paper coating plant. Prepared due diligence, assessed technology, evaluated project scope of work and schedule, reviewed engineering, procurement, and construction contracts, and advised bank with respect to mitigation of project risks.
Commercial Terms Review, EPC-related, Project Feasibility
Pulp and Paper Mill Incident
Analyzed processing operations and engineering design in a pulp and paper mill to determine sequence of events and possible causes of incident.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, Safety
Polybutylene Pipe Litigation
Assisted municipal water districts in asserting claims for tens of millions of dollars in damages resulting from defective polybutylene pipe.  Assisted in discovery, evaluated research and development records, reviewed state-of-the-art issues, and provided expert testimony.
Expert Witness/Testimony, Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Pipeline, Product Quality
Retail Marketing Business Development
Assessed Mid-Continent petroleum retail markets and competitive environment on behalf of a prospective retail market entrant. Pro forma economics were prepared for various retail business configurations to determine entry strategy options and assess the client's development objectives.
Refining Market Forecast
Investigated business interruption claims from fuels refineries, lube refineries, cement plants, fuels distributors, and chemicals manufacturers due to the closure of marine access following the release of oil into the waters surrounding the plants.  
Business Interruption
World Scale Alumina Refinery - Independent Engineer
Teamed with a mining consulting firm to provide independent engineering support to lenders of a world-scale, multi-billion dollar grassroots alumina refinery to be located in Guinea, West Africa. Reviewed project execution plan and entire design package for the proposed facility, including alumina refinery, power plant, import/export facilities, and all associated infrastructure. Prepared several interim reports during the initial engineering phase before project was abandoned due to political unrest within the country.
Project Feasibility
Failure Analysis of Pressure Washer
Evaluated the cause of a failed hot water pressure washer used during a road construction project.
Dust Explosion Capability Testing
Provided assistance in testing of explosiveness of resin dust during the operation of hand tools in a confined space.  Dust test results were videotaped and used for litigation support.
Tube Sheet, Flare Tip Matter
Investigated the cause of tubesheet and flare tip damage related to an unplanned sudden shutdown of the facility.  Evaluated whether damage was caused by the shutdown, long-term wear, or contractor error during installation.  Provided expert support through mediation and settlement efforts.  
EPC-related, Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance
Due Diligence of a Lube Re-Refining Facility
Conducted a due diligence analysis of technical and economic features of a lube oil re-refining plant involving a potential acquisition.
Reorganization of Crude Oil Trading Business
Analyzed crude trading business for potential reorganization.
Project Feasibility, Waterborne/Marine
Wholesale Trade Practices
Assisted a South American national oil company in reviewing trade practices for the wholesale marketing of petroleum products. Advised the client on wholesale price formation and marketing practices in free markets.
Commercial Contract Negotiations
Assisted with supply contract disputes relating to “take-or-pay” type obligations and “price adjustment” provisions.
Operations/Maintenance, Pricing
M&A in the Cement Industry
Performed acquisitions (share and asset) with hands on accountability for economic valuations, financial and market analysis, development of strategic rationale, approval documentation / presentations, deal negotiation, due diligence, legal agreements, and management and integration planning.
Fuel Contamination Investigation
Investigated an occurrence of contaminated diesel fuel at a mine facility, as well as the claimed property damage and business interruption claims.  Assessed the root cause of the fuel contamination and prepared a presentation of our findings.  
Product Quality
Refinery Hydrogen Demand Forecast
Forecasted individual refinery hydrogen supply balance changes due to Tier 2 and 3 gasoline sulfur regulations using the PRISM refinery modeling system.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Operations/Maintenance
Nitrogen Manifold Failure
Provided litigation support for nitrogen manifold explosion.
Operations/Maintenance, Safety
Post-incident Equipment Preservation Review
Assisted client by assessing preservation techniques and "mothballing" efforts following the catastrophic failure of a vessel at a specialty products company. Incident resulted in an insurance claim for damaged equipment and idled equipment in the vicinity of the vessel failure.  Efforts included assessing preservation techniques utilized at the plant compared to industry practices, developing an expert report, and providing expert testimony. 
Paper Mill Safety Incident
Assisted attorneys by investigating the circumstances concerning an incident that occurred at a paper plant during a scheduled turnaround that resulted in a fatality. Issues studied included assessing work practices and safety procedures utilized to prepare equipment for turnaround activities, including vessel entry and paper mill plant design. 
Forensic Analysis , Operations/Maintenance, OSHA-related, Safety
Electrostatic Precipitator Explosion
Investigated the cause and origin of an explosion in an electrostatic precipitator used in a cement manufacturing plant that was the subject of an insurance claim.  Reviewed operating records for temperatures, pressures, and flow rates through a rotating cement kiln.  Evaluated operation of the electrostatic precipitator for anomalies prior to the explosion.  Concluded that the cause and orgin related to a mechanical failure in the kiln.  Provided findings to the owner and its insurer and supported decisions regarding coverage and subrogation issues.
Business Interruption, Property Damage
Nitrogen Fertilizers Arbitration
Assisted an investor in asserting claims that the owner’s poor performance in completing an EPC contract and its subsequent operation of a world-scale nitrogen fertilizers project resulted in economic losses.  Work included evaluation of the EPC contracting strategy, evaluation of project controls, analysis of the operating performance of the project, review of whether natural gas supplies were adequate, evaluation of electrical power supply and grid reliability, and analysis of capital investment required to improve operations to industry standards.  Provided an expert report that was accepted into evidence in an international arbitration proceeding.  
Arbitration, Expert Witness/Testimony, Fertilizers