With governments worldwide focusing on how to improve the planet’s carbon footprint whilst fostering economic growth, could German based FRIEDRICH VORWERK be at the helm of the clean energy revolution?
Inside Oil and Gas returns to the industry leader to report on the lessons learnt from recent successful projects, its standing in the biomethane sector and the company’s burgeoning reputation in large-scale hydrogen projects, thanks in no small part to the company’s proprietary products – including OrQa®, a non-invasive flow metering system applicable to any high-pressure fluid flow. Laura Watling spoke with FRIEDRICH VORWERK’s CEO and shareholder, Torben Kleinfeldt, to find out what else is in store for this oil and gas infrastructure giant.
Since Inside Oil and Gas last spoke with FRIEDRICH VORWERK, things certainly haven’t slowed down for the renowned energy infrastructure engineers. “Both the EUGAL and Zeelink projects are now largely completed,” said Torben Kleinfeldt, owner and CEO of the company.
“EUGAL has been a tremendous success for FRIEDRICH VORWERK and a testament to what we can achieve in two years.” The European Gas Pipeline Link (EUGAL), is an expansive natural gas pipeline, supplying natural gas to Germany and Europe. Spanning from the Baltic Sea, through Germany and onto the Czech Republic, it traverses over 480km. Meanwhile, the Zeelink project, the 216km gas transmission pipeline, stretching the Belgian-Germany border, is a now largely completed. For FRIEDRICH VORWERK’s involvement, the final weld was recently completed and renaturation works have just begun. “We overcame some right of way challenges during the early stages, but have been able to complete this critical project on time,” explained Mr Kleinfeldt. “This pipeline enables a shift from low to highcalorific gas, supplying many millions of people.”
Keeping it clean
A big focus for FRIEDRICH VORWERK, has been work in the biomethane sector. This has been, in the words of Mr Kleinfeldt, “extremely successful” for the business. “We have increased our role along the value chain by substantially expanding our services and range in proprietary equipment and components in this area,” he said. In 2020, the business delivered 15 containerised biogas-processing plants to the French market. But it doesn’t stop there. The business’ core activities in the natural gas sector has benefitted from the global transition to clean energy, with huge sums being invested into new infrastructure projects in Germany. In 2020, the German Network Development Plan allocated €8.9 billion into the high-pressure gas transmission infrastructure, mainly driven by the firm political commitment to abandon the use of coal as a form of energy by 2038 at the latest. One such project is ETL-178 - Walle/Wolfsburg. FRIEDRICH VORWERK is working alongside the VW Group and the City of Wolfsburg to lay the foundation for a completely CO2-neutral hydrogen economy for industry, via the construction of a 33km long H2-ready natural gas pipeline. In a first step, the project will allow a shift from coal based energy to natural gas, with hydrogen as the primary energy source being the end goal. “Working for Gasunie and alongside major players like the VW Group, has proven our position as a leading partner in the energy transition,” said Mr Kleinfeldt. “In addition to our engineering competencies, our knowhow in HD drilling enables us to independently handle complex projects such as ETL-178.” Considering the company’s impressive reputation in the sector, it comes as little surprise that the vast majority of its largescale hydrogen projects is expected to emanate from leading customers in FRIEDRICH VORWERK’s legacy business in the gas sector, such as the TSOs, Evonik, Air Liquide and Sasol. Next to ETL-178, FRIEDRICH VORWERK is currently working on the first part of a 130 km hydrogen pipeline for Evonik, which is to become the nucleus of a European hydrogen backbone stretching almost 40,000 km, and a revolutionary project for ONTRAS. The ONTRAS project involves the development and implementation of the world’s first CO2-natural gas pressure regulation and metering system (GPRMS). Instead of burning some of the gas, the innovative application of vortex tubes generates heat in a thermodynamic process, which allows CO2-neutral pressure control. In addition, the GPRMS is complemented by VORWERK’s proprietary flow metering systems (OrQa®). VORWERK’s OrQa® is a non-invasive flow metering system applicable to any high-pressure fluid flow including petrochemicals. Its major advantages include major efficiency gains and significantly lowered maintenance costs, as the noninvasive nature prevents pressure loss inherent to traditional solutions on the market. “By beginning of 2022, we aim to deliver the OrQa® for international distribution form our prefabrication facilities in Wiesmoor, located in northern Germany,” confirmed Mr Kleinfeldt.
Practicing what it preaches
Naturally, FRIEDRICH VORWERK realizes that steps to reduce carbon emissions must also form a key part of what all businesses must do internally, and this progressive company is no different. FRIEDRICH VORWERK employs over 1,300 personnel plus around 200 apprentices, across 12 locations. The business ensures that its environmental impact is regularly quantified, documented and tracked and provides its staff with environmental awareness training. “Our employees are the most valuable resource in our business, which is why we have put immense efforts into training resulting in lower work related incidents, higher quality products and services, and higher employee satisfaction,” stated Mr Kleinfeldt. “We also ensure that environmental concerns play a role when purchasing materials and services, and ensure that renewable resources take preference over finite ones.” FRIEDRICH VORWERK has also implemented DIN EN ISO 14001 as an environmental management system and DIN EN ISO 5001 as an energy management system. The business has recently submitted its ‘Decarbonisation of inner-city infrastructure development through hydrogen (H2 City Construction)’ project. The project aims to supply inner city projects in greater Hamburg with clean hydrogen. “This project plans to reduce the negative emissions caused by FRIEDRICH VORWERK’s operations, providing a safer environment for our employees and Hamburg’s inhabitants and having a positive impact on the environment,” Mr Kleinfeldt divulged. This is not the only project VORWERK is pursuing in order to become more sustainable, as an Irene Vorwerk Foundation project is currently aiming to establish |a CO2-free energy and heat supply to the company’s prefabrication facilities in Wiesmoor.
From strength to strength
In order to make the most of the opportunities available in the clean energy transition, it is vital that FRIEDRICH VORWERK expands its business significantly. With this in mind, the business recently launched on the stock market, attracting significant financial investment from numerous reputable investment funds. “We raised €90 million from newly issued shares,” told Mr Kleinfeldt. “This will enable us to finance our organic expansion plans and to allow for further mergers and acquisitions.” Two such recent acquisitions come in the form of BODO and KORUPP GmbH. KORUPP is a leading provider of products and services in Cathodic Corrosion Protection (CCP). The acquisition of enables FRIEDRICH VORWERK to secure the technological competencies as well as the personnel capabilities to protect underground energy transport and storage systems from corrosion. “There is a unique opportunity for us to position ourselves as a leader in the European market. FRIEDRICH VORWERK is highly optimistic in regards to all of its end markets, and therefore we will continue to seek growth opportunities from the electricity and hydrogen markets,” said a confident Mr Kleinfeldt. However, he acknowledged that business growth isn’t free from challenge. “Our biggest challenge is to manage our strong growth, to acquire and train employees on all levels of our business.”
A transitioning future
VORWERK aims to position its pre-fab shop in Wiesmoor at the heart of its plant construction. From this site, FRIEDRICH VORWERK will develop and produce components such as the OrQa®, heat exchangers, gas dryers and filtering systems, which will be distributed internationally. As well as this, the site will engineer, manufacture and assemble the technical ‘heart-pieces’ of complex energy transformation systems, for example biogas processing systems and compressor stations. The establishment of a hydrogen lab will be the centre of FRIEDRICH VORWERK’s hydrogen activities. From here, the business will develop H2-ready equipment and newly developed components for hydrogen infrastructure; develop, test and certify FRIEDRICH VORWEKR’S existing proprietary such as the OrQa® and vortex tubes component for hydrogen applications; and be the showroom for the business’ hydrogen competencies for customers, researchers and policy makers. “We will also use our hydrogen competencies to decarbonise our own fleet and machinery,” said Mr Kleinfeldt. “Not only will the hydrogen lab serve as a demonstration site, it will also function to produce green hydrogen to decarbonise our fleet and machinery.” Finally, the business plans to continue to make investment into digitalisation, using digital tools to make its work more precise, more efficient and ultimately provide bigger value to its customers. With clean energy infrastructure being one of the most dynamically growing markets, with an estimated €430 billion worth of hydrogen-related investment planned in Europe alone by 2030, there are no signs of things slowing down for FRIEDRICH VORWERK.
(Laura Watling, August 2021, Inside Oil&Gas)