To Content

Expansion and diversification have established FRIEDRICH VORWERK as an influential brand on the piping construction and maintenance map across Europe. Profile by Andy Probert.

The advent of gas flows into and around Europe has placed FRIEDRICH VORWERK in the vanguard of the pipe laying, construction, maintenance and servicing sector. No surprise then, that 70% of its turnover is allied to the gas industry.

One such high profile tender was the winning of lot 7 and 8 of the EUGAL pipeline through a consortium with Denys NV of Belgium and Anton Meyer GmbH & Co KG.

The EUGAL pipeline, owned by gas transhipper Gascade Gastransport, is planned to carry high gas volumes from Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast to the Czech border in the south. The gas is first transported to Lubmin from Russia via the Nord Stream 2.

“The EUGAL pipeline will provide the missing gas volumes for the European market due to the decline in Dutch gas production and the scarcity of resources in the North Sea,” commented FRIEDRICH VORWERK’s CEO, Torben Kleinfeldt.

The 64km double pipeline section, with a 100 bar pressure level, is to be installed in a 54m wide work strip mainly in open construction. The consortium will be tasked with running the pipeline across various challenging intersections of the existing OPAL line, such as the Löcknitz, the Oder-Spree waterway and the Müggelspree. The work is scheduled to continue until 2021.

In the meantime, FRIEDRICH VORWERK has quietly undergone expansion, enlarging its expertise in the bio-methane treatment field by acquiring experts whose expertise lies in constructing bio-methane plants which convert bio-methane to gas which is then added to the national grid.

Strengthened its hand

2012 saw the foundation of the European Pipeline Services with FRIEDRICH VORWERK and Einhaus Anlagenservice GmbH combining their services, before FRIEDRICH VORWERK took over the activities for testing and inspecting pipelines and plants from Einhaus Anlagenservice. 

Through this merger, the company has strengthened its hand in pipeline construction, as well as in strength and leak tests on all pipelines and systems in the utility and chemical industries. The tests are with gaseous and liquid media on pipelines and systems of all dimensions and pressure levels. 

“This is a sector of the oil and gas industry that is new to us, however it is one that we are experiencing a level of demand,” remarked Mr Kleinfeldt. To complement these activities, the company has developed as an autonomous solution provider, offering servicing and a broad portfolio of cleaning concepts.

A total of 750 people work at the FRIEDRICH VORWERK Group, across several German locations; the company’s headquarters in Tostedt (30km south of Hamburg), Lüchow, Halle (Saale), Ketzin and Herne.

With the geographical spread, the group can reach all points of the country quickly and efficiently. Since its founding in 2001, it has been influential in the building and servicing of many pipeline projects across Germany.

In the last year alone, the company has been engaged in the service and maintenance of a 6,500km high pressure gas grid and stations from north east Germany running west of Berlin and onwards to the Thüringen border.

Mr Kleinfeldt said another milestone was the joint venture ARGE Bavaria Loop Nord with Max Streicher and PPS Pipelinesystems to build a loop line from the Open Grid Europe station Schwandorf, near Regensburg, to Forchheim in Lower Bavaria. The loop line of over 62km has a diameter of DN1000 and is designed for a pressure of 100 bar.

The expansion will allow for the connection of new natural gas reservoirs and new gas power plants and ensure the capacity requirements of downstream network operators and co-operation partners of Open Grid Europe. The first construction works started in October 2016 and commissioning of the pipeline commenced in December 2017.

Maintenance prospects
FRIEDRICH VORWERK has also been involved in improving the world’s largest biogas plant (electrical output: 20 MW) with the construction of a biogas upgrading plant.

In it, the excess gas from 40 individual systems is transported into a membrane gas reservoir with a capacity of 3,200m³. After a primary treatment stage where the water vapour is roughly separated from the gas, the gas is transported into the main compressor of the upgrading plant.

The biogas is compressed to 15 bar by means of a single-stage screw compressor. The gas then flows into one of 104 membrane modules in which the gas is fractionated into CO2 and CH4. At the end of this three-stage membrane process, the bio-methane leaves the plant with a purity of 98% and a pressure of almost 15 bar.

The CO2 contains only 0.5% methane and is subjected to a pressure-less post-combustion treatment in a regenerative thermal oxidizer before it is released into the atmosphere.

During full-load operation, the plant will consume 400 KW of electricity, but in exchange will convert 1,300m³/h of biogas into 700 m³/h of bio-methane, which equals a thermal output of 7,000 KW. This amount of gas can power 7,000 modern households.

For piping, activities comprise of the service and maintenance of piping networks and valve stations, route maintenance, gas detection services and the rectification of faults and suppression of interferences.

Other special services include pig cleaning, spot drilling, repairs on gas carrying systems, works on pressurised pipelines, inductive preheating for welding works on pipes in use and the use of alternative repair procedures.

Ready for renovations

“We are looking to the gas industry and expect that will require an enormous amount of renovation work,” commented Mr Kleinfeldt. “We are also contemplating the future of LNG and what impact it may have on our business.

“LNG may well be the fuel of the future, particularly in the marine industry. So we have begun training our welders for the LNG market.”

This is in line with the group’s desire to become more focussed on the service and maintenance side of operations, noted Mr Kleinfeldt, because clients always need to maintain and service plants and grids.

Mr Kleinfeldt also said the group was involved in a host of other projects, including gas purification for a waste treatment plant and a district heating grid for the HafenCity district in Hamburg, Germany.

“We are aiming for more service contracts to create steady growth,” he commented in relation to taking on more bio-methane plants. There are around 3,500 such plants in Germany, of which about 3,000 are converting the bio-methane into electricity.

The CEO, who has held his position at FRIEDRICH VORWERK since 2012, added the company is also involved in the evolving ZEELINK project, one which includes the construction of a natural gas pipeline from the Belgian-German border at Lichtenbusch to Sankt Hubert near Krefeld and on to Legden near Ahaus in North Rhine-Westphalia.

While increasing the transport capacity of natural gas from north to south Germany, the ZEELINK project will also connect to the NEL pipeline, possibly adding additional volumes of natural gas from the NEL offshore Nord Stream and the Nord Stream 2. The pipeline will connect to the LNG terminal in Zeebrugge.

“We remain a family-run business with a solid financial standing,” summarised Mr Kleinfeldt. “We care passionately about customers, suppliers and employees, and through working in partnerships with all of them we have seen double digit growth.”

He concluded: “Given the amount of energy and investment being ploughed into the gas industry, we are quite optimistic that we have an active role to play for at least the next 20 years.”

 (Inside Oil & Gas, Nov/Dec 2018)