Skip to main content

Robert Cunningham

Robert Cunningham

Practice Director of Energy

Education & Qualifications

B.S. Chemical Engineering, South
Dakota School of Mines &

MBA, University of Texas at Austin

Areas Of Expertise

Refining & Petrochemical
Upstream & Midstream
Chemical Engineering
Business Interruption
Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
Expert Testimony


Robert Cunningham is a chemical engineer with over 20 years of operations and construction experience in the petrochemical energy refining and upstream production industries. Robert’s expertise is focused on maintenance, turnaround, and major brownfield projects, combined with a thorough comprehension of DOJ procedures and EPA mandates regarding the reconstruction of process units.

Robert currently consults on insurance claims in the energy industry, both upstream and downstream, providing his expertise to adjusters, insurance carriers, and their legal counsel to aid in the repair and rebuilding of plants and refinery units following catastrophic fires and explosions. Additionally, he provides expert testimony on energy-related projects in the construction, reconstruction, and commissioning phases.

Selected Assignments

Description Type Value
Midwest Refinery FCCU, Crude – Fire PD + BI $938M
Customer of a Penn. Refinery – Explosion BI (LP) $200M
Gulf Coast LNG Facility – Hurricane DSU $190M
Louisiana Refinery – Hurricane PD $120M
Louisiana Plastics Plant – Hurricane PD $80M
Midwest Explosives Mfg. – Explosion PD + BI $85M
Texas Drilling Fluids Plant – Fire PD + BI $40M
Western Refinery Crude – Fire PD $39M
Louisiana Plastics Plant – Explosion CAR (PR) $38M
Gulf Coast LNG Facility – Pipe Coatings PD $31M
Texas Refinery FCCU – Fire PD $37M
Louisiana Ethylene Cracker – Fire BI $19M
Northwest Cofferdam – Flood DSU $18M
Southern Refinery, Penex ISOM – Fire PD + BI $40M
Midwest Caustic Plant – Storm DSU $25M
Gulf Coast Herbicides Plant – Freeze PD + BI $22M
Canadian Fractionation Unit – Fire PD + BI $13M



Midwest Refinery FCCU Crude – Fire & Explosion
Robert developed a technical RFI and led the investigation of the module packaging for structural defects/abnormalities analyzing the packaging design and the EPC’s storage, transport, and staging process & protocols as compared to industry norms. Robert completed an “as-was, where-was” repair cost analysis and summarized site-visit and investigation findings in subsequent technical reports.

Louisiana Refinery – Hurricane
The owner converted an aged refinery to a midstream oil export terminal after sustaining significant hurricane flood damage. Robert was retained to develop an AACEI class 4 EPC estimate for the replacement scope associated with the flood event. Additionally, Robert developed an Actual Cash Value estimate based on replacing damaged equipment and property with new equipment and property of like kind and quality.

Louisiana Refinery – Freeze
A Louisiana refinery was severely impacted by a winter storm and was plagued by freeze-related damages over a 4-month period. During the weather event, the refinery was amid a turnaround, with numerous non-freeze and freeze-related repairs occurring simultaneously. Robert was engaged to review and analyze the different repairs to confirm that the maintenance work did not impact the freeze-related repairs. Robert confirmed that the work undertaken was completed in an expedient manner and within expected industry norms.

Gulf Coast Refinery – Hurricane/Flood
The owner converted an aged refinery to a midstream oil export terminal after sustaining significant hurricane flood damage. Robert was retained to develop an AACEI class 4 EPC estimate for the replacement scope associated with the flood event. Additionally, Robert developed an Actual Cash Value estimate based on replacing damaged equipment and property with new equipment and property of like kind and quality.


Canadian Fractionation Unit – Fire
A fire broke out at a fractionation and storage facility, resulting in damage and a complete plant shutdown. To mitigate business interruption losses, the insured prioritized restarting Train 1 (which just underwent a turnaround) in lieu of focusing on strict repair works to the damaged Train. Robert was engaged to aid in examining the BI timeline and the insured’s mitigation efforts. Robert engaged OCI’s scheduling expert to analyze the detailed schedule using Primavera P6 to confirm that prioritizing Train 1 did not delay the repairs to Train 2. Further, Robert analyzed the procurement delivery timeframe for replacement equipment to determine that the repair period was reasonable given the nature of the damage.

West Texas Wellsite – Acid Leak
An oilfield operator detected an acid leak at a wellsite as they mobilized to begin fracking operations. Robert conducted a site investigation to inspect the affected equipment and associated damages. Robert determined the acid pool was present for a long period based on the extent of damage to the adjacent equipment. Robert investigated fabrication repair costs to conclude it was more cost effective to replace versus repair the damaged equipment.


Midwest Explosives Manufacturing – Explosion
A detonation of primer chemicals caused a major loss at an aged ammunition facility, requiring a total replacement of equipment in the chemical manufacturing area. The facility lost over 8 months of production while destroyed equipment was replaced, including code-required improvements and HAZOP process improvements. Robert was appointed to analyze the business interruption component and identify direct replacement costs for an as-was-where-was rebuild, segregating code & HAZOP improvements.

Gulf Coast Toll Manufacturer – Fire
A Texas manufacturer experienced a fire on one of their main pieces of equipment within a large process warehouse. The rebuild involved bringing some equipment elements and operations up to code. Robert was engaged to conduct a damage assessment, to review the repair works and timeline associated with the rebuild, and to identify the impacts of code upgrades on the cost and repair schedule.


California Resort – Winter Storm
A severe winter storm impacted an indoor waterpark that was being built along the US west coast. The structure was temporarily dried-in before the storm; however, water leaked in causing property damage. Robert analyzed the claimed damages, repair costs, and verified construction schedule delays.

Northwest Cofferdam – Flood
A spring season runoff partially destroyed a cofferdam, a vital structure within a network of fish passage systems to support annual salmon migrations. The structure was damaged during a planned construction period, and repairs had to be completed promptly to prevent future damage from the following spring season runoff. Robert evaluated the repair and schedule acceleration costs, and calculated the delay caused by the cofferdam failure and reconstruction.



Refinery Upgrades & Repositioning Projects
Robert was appointed construction lead on a relief systems upgrade project to remove atmospheric blowdown vessels from the refinery and upgrade them to a closed relief system. The refinery-wide project included inside and outside battery limit components and multiple turnarounds (TARs) to deliver the project. He designed and procured blast-resistant modules to support permitting activities for construction and was accountable for field construction activities, including lift planning and RFI processes.

On a $600M naphtha repositioning project, Robert developed options to replace an ultraformer with a newer continuous catalytic reformer and progressed through FEED stages 1 & 2. He was accountable for developing action plans and managing risks, and he ensured IPA best-in-class project delivery through effective front-end loading and work process performance.

As the project engineer on a refinery project, Robert was responsible for bringing the occupied buildings in line with Baker Panel Report findings. Robert developed the execution plan, including the PEP, HSSE, and risk management plans. He led efforts to manage cost, schedule, and forecasting for capital projects, and he created the construction execution plan to coordinate subcontractor work activities in the field.

Chemical Process Facilities
Robert led various Six Sigma projects to improve a chemical plant’s economic output goal to sustain efficiencies over 12 months. He increased the productivity of raw material deliveries by 0.5% with zero capital expenditure.

Robert was appointed as the controls & automation discipline lead on a storage facility to install new hydrocarbon wells to optimize raw material price fluctuations. He planned and developed the control and instrumentation strategy on MOD5 / MODV DCS for the $15M storage well.

As the controls & automation operations engineer, Robert provided engineering staff support to plant operations during the commissioning and start-up phase, including on-call support to the plant for up to 30 days after start-up. He routinely provided technical support and mentored facility operation technicians on MOD5/MODV process automation. Robert supervised control systems, equipment shutdown & start-up during the threat of Hurricane Rita.


Semi-submersible Offshore Platform
Robert was appointed to serve in three separate engineering capacities on the water injection construction scope of a deepwater semi-submersible offshore platform project in the Gulf of Mexico. The water injection project consisted of 280 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBOED) of water for reservoir pressure protection.

As the project manager, Robert led the execution performance management and delivery project scope to gather and codify best practices for project execution planning to standardize project delivery and produce consistent project results. He authored company-wide procedures detailing PEP requirements, created planning tools and procedures for PEP development, and he implemented training courses to upskill staff on PEP development.

As the delivery manager on the topsides project costing $500M, Robert improved engineering work processes resulting in cost savings of $20M and reduced detailed engineering design by 3 months. He led the execution and construction plan consisting of over 150 direct workers, and he delivered the project on time and budget with zero accidents.

As the project manager, Robert created a project execution plan and staffing plan to build a team of 65 contract and direct staff to execute the FEL and FEED for the $250M debottlenecking scope to increase the throughput and quantity of produced water. He developed a terraced scope and execution schedule to manage spending in a low-price oil environment to incrementally meet produced water needs as additional subsea wells were brought online.


2021 – Present OCI – USA
Houston, TX
President, Director of Energy
2019 –2021 ChemTech, Inc.
Houston, TX
Senior Managing Consultant / Senior Project Manager
2016 –2019 Capital Consulting International (CCi)
Houston, TX
Vice President / Senior Consultant, Energy
2008 –2016 BP – Exploration & Production
Houston, TX
Project Manager
2006 –2008 BP – Refining & Marketing
Houston, TX
Project Manager
2002 –2006 The Dow Chemical Company
Houston, TX
Design Engineer