It goes without saying that an international gas infrastructure company such as the Gasunie has a large installed base of valves. Indeed, an important element of Mr Nijland’s job is to ensure all these valves function properly. As he says, having to do maintenance on an installed valve in a pressurised pipeline can be a very expensive proposition and is therefore something that Gasunie takes pains to prevent.
Further commenting, Mr Nijland indicates that the Gasunie recently conducted a study to assess the performance of valves in service. “What we found was that up to 90% of problems could be traced back to the installation phase. We have therefore looked at ways to improve the installation process in general and have also implemented additional testing.”
He further states that Gasunie now tests valves on no fewer than three separate occasions. These include factory acceptance tests, intake tests when the valve arrives on-site or at a Gasunie warehouse, and then finally a post-installation test, to ensure the functionality of the valve and to check for any leakage.
Set against this background, Mr Nijland’s plans to attend the Valve World Conference & Expo become very clear. “I will be attending with three or four colleagues and we have two key aims: firstly to find ways to improve maintenance and solve any valve dysfunctions, and secondly to look for new technical developments that could be advantageous to Gasunie.”
“The Valve World show brings together a huge number of people and companies involved in valves so this is an ideal place to meet up with both vendors and fellow end users,” he adds. “I’m very keen to share problems and solutions with my peers, and it will be interesting to hear how other end users test their valves before installation.”
Mr Nijland will be sitting in on several of the conference sessions and has highlighted a couple of “must attend” presentations. “I especially want to hear Dave Anderson’s talk on “Valve condition & performance monitoring: why bother?” on the Tuesday morning and I am also very interested to be at the Speaker’s Corner later the same day when Marc Simoëns from Dow Benelux and Gobind Khiani from Fluor Canada will share their field experiences with valves.”
Speaking about his career in general, Mr Nijland says he really enjoys working with valves. “Valves are fascinating items of equipment and my role is very dynamic: some days are spent in the office, but there is also plenty of opportunity to visit manufacturers and be at the job site. I’ve spent seventeen years at the Gasunie, first in the operations department and later moving to project activities. Valves have been a constant factor throughout my working life and at Gasunie I am currently the specifications owner for valves, so responsible for all technical issues. What I find particularly rewarding is that here at Gasunie my boss sets out the goals but let’s me determine the best way to reach them.”
Gasunie in Groningen
Mr Nijland works for Gasunie at the company's eye-catching headquarters in Groningen, the Netherlands