Capital Project Management Support

Tom Wolf                                                    (281)565-4038

Capital Cost Estimates - Understanding, Analyzing, and Evaluating

List Price:  $60.00

 8" x 10", 232 pages

Available at and other retailers

One of a series for the person requiring more than just an answer.
Refining and petrochemical project management personnel, most without estimating background, are required to understand, analyze, and determine validity of complex cost estimates prepared by others. 

This book is specifically designed and written as a desktop resource. In addition to presenting an organized approach to analyzing cost estimates, results of decades long historical cost data is provided, and  needed assistance to answer the crucial question of “is this estimate reasonable?” is presented.

Estimate Basis Template


T. E. Wolf, Sugar Land, Texas


(Please note this is copyrighted material, it is provided for your information.  Please feel free to use it, but please don't abuse the copyright.  Thank you.)     



By definition a cost estimate is an approximation of a refinery or petrochemical facility's cost and that estimate is most likely based on preliminary engineering, decisions, assumptions, and other uncertain information; an estimate is a 'snapshot' in time based on these early data. Invariably, this early snapshot (the estimating scope) will not entirely represent the final installed scope and consequently the issued estimate cost may not be an adequate representation of the final installed cost. 

Before a defensible cost difference and explanation can be developed and presented, a systematic approach must have been put in-place during the estimate preparation to define the as-estimated scope. This approach must be of sufficient detail to define the preliminary data used to prepare the estimate, then and only then can a meaningful differences between the estimate scope and final scope be furnished to support the cost difference.

The most commonly used tool to organize, define, and identify the preliminary documents, decisions, assumptions, etc. utilized in preparing the estimate is the estimate basis (Basis of Estimate) document.  

Below is an MSWord template for a fairly detailed petrochemical facility Basis of Estimate written to support an FEL II Estimate, but this can be changed by the user to fit any class of estimate.  

See MSWord file below.

This Basis of Estimate template should be viewed as a checklist, to be modified to suit the particular refinery or petrochemical cost estimate, increased in detail, decreased in detail as required, but should be viewed by the the cost estimator, the project manager, and the client as the documentation supporting the estimated cost at the time the estimate was prepared.


This website’s goal is to provide a source for project management support, information, education, and training material for project managers and project engineers primarily in the refinery, petroleum, and petrochemical industries.  In the execution of these projects, the project manager or project engineer may find the need for additional information and support; most times this support will come from within his or her company.  But there are times additional sources are needed.  This website is intended to meet those additional needs.


Project success is a function of the people skills and a broad understanding of diverse subject matter of the project management team.  Scope definition, execution considerations, construction strategy, planning and schedule impact, resource utilization, overcoming difficulties and problem solving, etc, etc, etc, are just a few to enumerate even without addressing the technical side.  Then there is the cost, estimating, and estimate side, factor estimates, detail estimates, forced detail estimates, basis of estimate, construction wage rates, and so on.  Then there is the technical side, material issues, piping systems, equipment considerations, civil and structural, electrical and control systems, document control, specifications, standards, and regulations.  Then there’s the variety of processes both refining (hydrocrackers, delayed cokers, etc.) and petrochemical facilities, the list is almost endless.


Project management is as much art as science.  The key is to continue to learn and never stop learning.

Tom Wolf has over 40 years petroleum and petrochemical experience, including 25 years in project management.  He holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering.


© 2013 by Thomas E. Wolf.  All rights reserved.  No part of the information contained in these webpages may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system without written permission of the copyright holder, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.