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Ben Oudman – Country Manager Oil & Gas, DNV GL Netherlands

04.06.2015 / Energyboardroom

DNV GL’s Dutch oil and gas country manager shares his insight regarding the future of the Dutch energy sector, how DNV GL works hand-in-hand with companies and governments to create sustainable energy assesments, and the Netherlands as a test bed and global model for this energy transition. 

How has DNV GL’s presence in the Netherlands evolved in the recent years?

DNV GL has a rich history dating back to 1864 when the company was founded as a technical inspector of Norwegian merchant vessels. Since then, the company has grown substantially and branched out to different locations around the globe to cover an array of expertise in technical assurance, engineering, certification, and risk management. As the Group’s fourth largest country and a key center of expertise for the energy sector, DNV GL Netherlands occupies a strong positioning in the group’s business plan.

Through the DNV acquisition of KEMA at the end of 2011, early 2012, and the DNV and GL merger that took place in September 2013, our portfolio here in the Netherlands has expanded substantially to cover a complete offshore and onshore energy portfolio, including, oil, gas, electricity and maritime services.. Main office locations are in Arnhem, Groningen and Rotterdam. Our energy and power testing business deal with such technologies as power cables, transformers, insulators and switchgears and handles many projects dealing with renewable electricity , supporting the development of both domestic and international projects relating to energy. Our oil and gas business deals with all aspects of safe, reliable and cost effective exploration, production, transmission, distribution and end use of predominantly gas, mirroring the dominance of gas in the Netherlands.

As a complement to our onshore energy offering, our oil and gas and marine advisory businesses focus have a strong offshore component that is reinforced by our Norwegian maritime heritage.

What makes DNV GL the go to company that nations and companies reach out to for expertise? 

DNV GL is the go to company thanks to our independence and our focus on “future proofing.” Our mission is to protect life, property, and the environment by remaining at the forefront of the game changing technologies that are reshaping the energy and oil and gas industries. We constantly strive to see the long term vision for our clients and devote a considerable portion of our assets to innovating towards this future. Furthermore, the breadth of experience and depth of knowledge we have generated via our interactions with customers also enables us to set new industry standards.

What are your own personal ambitions to widen DNV GL’s service offering in the Netherlands?

DNV GL’s Dutch market share in offshore is currently relatively small, and I would like to see the full breadth of our companies’ experience and competence, gained for example from our work in other parts of the North Sea, brought to our customers on the Dutch continental shelf to support them with their mainly ageing assets. Many assets of the Dutch operators are nearing their life expectancy and DNV GL can aid companies that are looking to further cost-optimize or extend the lifetime of their assets or looking ahead for the next opportunity. We share our know-how to aid companies to leverage their assets in a cost effective way, especially considering the current market situation.

How specifically is DNV GL positioning itself to best advise customers in the Dutch continental shelf?

To start, DNV GL has created asset strategies that help reduce the operational expenditures (OPEX) for our customers. Such an exercise requires taking a broader view and utilizing the capabilities of our research centers in the Netherlands and our expertise in technical advisory and in technology verification and qualification. With these strengths, we can ensure that both existing assets andnew technologies entering the market are safe and operate according to the operational and environmental criteria set by the Dutch clientele and regulators. For example, DNV GL Netherlands is a leading expert on the implementation of asset management systems (e.g. according to ISO 55000) and can follow this up with in-service verification and/or risk- based inspection to ensure operator control over aging offshore assets, including safe lifetime extension and re-use.

Wind farms are a hot topic within the North Sea energy industry. How does DNV GL position itself in this market?

Wind farms in Northern Europe are projects covering expertises from across nearly all DNV GL’s business areas and hence allow our various departments to collaborate extensively for the benefit of our customers, showcasing the breadth of expertise DNV GL has to offer. Our Garrad Hassan renewables advisory teams help to ensure the optimal set-up and operation of wind farms, whilst our KEMA power transmission expertise and testing capabilities are particularly valuable when it comes to implementing and operating grids at sea. With our offshore oil and gas expertise we verify that the assets are designed, installed and commissioned according to national or international standards. And finally it is obvious that with our longstanding maritime tradition we can support our customers with all marine aspects of building, connecting and operating windfarms.

How is your expertise here in the Netherlands relevant for overseas projects? 

Our expertise and track record of successful projects in the Netherlands have led to a plethora of international projects. For example, since the early 2000s we have been involved in the set-up and roll-out of the the Israeli natural gas network, based on the 40 years of hands-on operational experienced our team has in building and operating the Dutch gas system. Other examples include implementation of asset management strategies for pipeline operators in North America and the Arabian Peninsula, and setting up gas transmission tariff systems for regulators in Europe and the Middle East.

What is DNV GL’s role in promoting the Netherlands as a sustainability hub?

From a national perspective, the Netherlands has been a gas country since the 1960s thanks to the the discovery of the Groningen Field. Renewable energy sources are now reshaping the energy industry, but gas still has a major role to play. Gas can provide a partial answer to the challenges posed during this energy transition because the intermittency of renewables requires a reliable energy (back-up) sources such as gas.

The European Union has set 2020 emission targets and there are many efforts to try and bring cleaner fossil fuels to the national agenda of the European member states. The Netherlands has implemented plans to also take a more leading position on the widescale introduction of renewable energy against a backdrop of widespread use of Natural Gas: a considerable fuel transition is set to take shape in the coming decades. DNV GL is taking an innovative and forward thinking role in supporting our customers and national stakeholders in the realization of the national renewable energy ambitions, for example by setting up the Fuel Transition Centre as part of our Oil & Gas activities in Groningen.

The Netherlands is intent on promoting the use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a fuel. What is DNV GL doing to facilitate this process in the Netherlands?

Our Dutch DNV GL teams have an abundance of insight and experience with LNG as transportation fuel, and we have positioned ourselves as a leader in the developing local and international market for what is often called Downstream LNG. We are the safety risk advisor to the Dutch LNG Platform, while we also perform most of the quantitative risk assessments related to LNG for the Port of Rotterdam, VOPAK,and GDF Suez, among other companies. Our expertise has made us the preferred safety risk advisor pertaining to the sighting of LNG fueling stations for road transport and bunkering facilities for inland vessels. Given the leading position of the Netherlands regarding Downstream LNG, our dutch teams are currently also involved in the EU LNG Masterplan, setting the standards for the introduction of LNG as fuel within Europe. Next to our strengths in Safety Risk advisory for LNG, we are extending our gas quality and fiscal metering expertise to also play a role in assesing the quality of LNG from different sources. By doing so we aim to ensure fair trade of LNG, which will be fundamental to the full development of LNG as a commodity fuel.

It was recently announced that DNV GL is now a Global Partner of the World Energy Council, the world’s most influential energy network. What does this membership say about the value of DNV GL’s services?

In a market with such high standards as the energy, oil and gas industry, DNV GL is able to test new technologies and act as a forward-looking advisor. These attributes mean that DNV GL has the opportunity to give back to developing societies globally and help them advance by sharing our insight.


Click here to read more articles and interviews from the Netherlands, and to download our latest free oil and gas report on the country. 



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