Business Profiles

Energising the Future: Petrogas Systems BV

With an impressive legacy in its field, Petrogas Gas-systems B.V. from the Netherlands has risen to the top the old fashioned way – through hard work and determination. Traditional notions of service standards and commitment continue to permeate this inspiring organisation, so Endeavour got in touch to find out more.

The 9th of April 1949 was a good day for business, as on this day Petrogas was founded by Mr. Popovice. Petrogas started as an engineering company of small scale installations like LPG systems, town gas stations and coal gasification stations. The focus on the gas sector and the related experience and knowledge gained proved to be an ideal starting point for further expansion, accelerated by the discovery of the Slochteren Gas Fields in the Netherlands in 1955.

With the discovery of these fields, The Netherlands suddenly had access to a huge supply of natural gas, but lacked the infrastructure to bring this gas to the end-user. As one of the few local companies at that time, who possessed the knowledge and experience to engineer gas processing equipment, Petrogas became intimately involved with the development of the Dutch gas infrastructure and business was booming. Petrogas wrote many of the specifications still used by N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie today.

The experience and knowledge Petrogas’ engineers gained in those early years provided the first ingredients required for the next step. Innovation. One of the earliest examples is the development of the Petrovari Mixer in the early ‘50s, of which hundreds were eventually installed worldwide. This device efficiently mixed gas and air for a burner without the need to compress the air. Another example is that Petrogas was the first party to successfully upgrade biogas to natural gas quality for injection in a gas grid in the ‘80s.

A culture of innovation

The drive to develop innovative solutions is nowadays engraved in the company culture and is what sets Petrogas apart from competitors. Everyone is passionate about technology.

“The heart and brains of Petrogas are a team of committed process specialists. Using our extensive experience and driven by our passion for technology, we design and deliver tailor-made processing systems that provide maximum value for our customers in the gas and energy industries. We consider our customers’ challenges as our own and we don’t step out until everything works as it should. “That’s the key here; always be innovating, because you want to provide the best solutions to your clients.

“Our clients value our reliability and say that we are great to work with. That’s because we treat the people we engage with as we would want to be treated ourselves. To do what we do, we must stay at the forefront of technology. Petrogas invests heavily in R&D, with the long-term focus of our innovation squarely on renewable energy production.”

These investments in R&D are visible when you look at the current wide range of products and services Petrogas provides. Mr. Popovice would have been proud to see the development the company has undergone since the founding of the company.

“Petrogas nowadays maintains a leading market position for the supply of fuel gas- and fuel oil- conditioning systems for the power market. Our systems are installed at hundreds of gas power plants worldwide and prepare the gas for use in the turbine. Next to our traditional market segments, the refinery and natural gas sectors, Petrogas has successfully completed several projects in the upstream market with Natural Gas dehydration and sour gas sweetening systems.”

Making inroads into renewable & sustainable energy production

Talking about investments and new markets, Petrogas invests heavily in renewable and is making big steps in bringing new technology to the market.

“We have the world on loan from the generations that will follow us and must care for it in good stewardship. Ultimately, responsible global energy production will become completely based on renewable sources of energy. Petrogas has a key role in that future vision and is continually applying its expertise in new, innovative ways. In the decades it will take to transition to a fully renewable energy system, we will provide the technology that makes it possible to use the planet’s reserves and natural resources with maximum efficiency.”

“This brings us to more recent developments, as expected Petrogas is involved in Biogas processing and biomass-to-gas technologies as this is most closely related to their current fields of work. But what is more surprising is their involvement and assistance to the development of a completely different technology.

Recently, we have been involved with the development of a plastic-to-oil processing system together with BlueAlp™. The BlueAlp™ Technology is developed with the aim of efficiently transforming plastic waste, which cannot technically or economically be recycled or re-used, into valuable oil. This oil can be used as fuel or as a feedstock for chemical processes. Plastic waste is a huge problem and giving these current ‘end of life plastics’ an economic value by turning them into oil, will ultimately help to rid the world of plastic waste pollution.”

What did we say? Always be innovating! It’s this focus on not only core values of the company itself but the ability to stay modern, fresh and at the cutting edge of a relatively saturated marketplace that keeps Petrogas not only ticking over, but paving the way. Add to this the fact that employees are clearly considered to be a commodity of the highest value, that commands the utmost respect and you’ll soon see that the success being enjoyed by the team as a whole is no accident. While so many companies pay lip service to the notions of ‘customer first’ or the ‘client is king’, it is the smaller, quieter operations that are actually aligning with them and acting accordingly.

With the global energy market coming under regular scrutiny these days, it’s more important than ever to fulfill promises and up service standards, but what is the state of the industry right now?

“The global energy market is currently undergoing a transformation, from the use of fossil fuels to more sustainable resources. Currently, natural gas plays an important role in facilitating the transformation of the world’s energy market and reducing CO2 output. Gas is an attractive alternative to coal as a feedstock for power plants. The trend is on-going; for example, in 2015, for the first time in history, natural gas overtook coal as the top feedstock for electricity generation in the USA.”

Recognising and nurturing talent

With change on the horizon, it’s going to be those companies that can quickly adapt and that have the right team in place that will thrive and survive. Petrogas, having nurtured recognized talent, have an incredible resource, in the form of the staffing body. Each individual is compassionate to the plight of future world energy and wants to play a key part in the safeguarding of the industry. In order to keep this passion alive, Petrogas is heavily invested in developing each and every staff member, citing that the “capabilities of our employees are at the centre of our capability as a company.”

Looking to the future, as we already are, Petrogas is ready to embark on a voyage of new technologies and products, each designed to contribute to the ultimate goal of global energy production becoming completely reliant on renewable energy sources. Though the company acknowledges that it will take decades for this goal to be fully realized, they see this as an opportunity to keep developing and testing, to make sure the future really is a lot greener and brighter for everyone.

“We constantly cooperate with universities, research bodies and most importantly our suppliers and clients to further develop new ideas and improve our current systems, from initial brainstorm sessions to proof of concept, from initial design to the first successful implementation on a client site.”

Investing in R&D to stay ahead of the curve

Taking a look at some of the exciting new projects to come out of the Petrogas camp, they really aren’t kidding that they want to always be improving their systems,

“A good example of our approach to R&D is the development of a black powder solution, employing magnet technology to separate black powder from natural gas streams. During this project we worked closely together with our suppliers in the Netherlands and our customer in Saudi Arabia to address a problem that is plaguing the plant of client. Black powder is a hard contaminant with magnetic properties in gas streams, resulting from corrosion of the pipeline and causes a lot of damage to on-stream equipment and pipelines.

Due to its magnetic properties the small parts can slip through many filter applications, yet group back together further downstream and damage the downstream equipment such as the blades of the turbine. Petrogas developed a black powder separation system that will enable clients to remove large quantities of black powder from the gas stream, protecting the turbine and minimizing downtime for maintenance. We have started with the first commercial scale project, where we will install the black powder separation system on site to protect the downstream equipment at a large power plant. There are many plants across the globe that are experiencing similar contaminations. Solving the black powder problem at plants will increase the plants efficiency, but also reduce the total cost of ownership of processing equipment by reducing maintenance and spare parts requirements. We are very excited to bring the new system to the market in the upcoming year and help our clients increase the efficiency of their plants.”

With a host of other troubleshooting, innovative and future friendly ideas being developed, Petrogas is a huge company being run with a family operation ethos and that can only mean one thing; successful projects and cherished working relationships that will see clients returning exponentially.