SABER EVNAT at the StocExpo 2022

Europe’s Green Deal and industry transformation are impossible without ambitious solutions

In late May, the industry fair/conference StocExpo was held at the Ahoy fairs and event hall in Rotterdam; it is among the bulk liquid storage industry’s major events. Experts from the top businesses in the sector discussed the key challenges facing the industry during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Biggest Challenge is the Lack of Time

The three-day event brought together experts from companies such as Shell, Vopak, Alkion Terminals, Varo Energy, Exolum, Odfjell, Evos, Navigator Terminals, VTTI and many others. Thousands of professionals came from 100+ countries around the globe. One of the major events, the forum also became special due to the post-pandemic situation in Europe and the entire world. It was held online last year, but personal interaction still remains the most efficient way to analyze the market situation.

Lourda Derry, COO at Easyfairs, hosts of StocExpo, says, “It’s wonderful to be back in-person.  The sector is going through an important transition and it’s crucial that we are able to share ideas and tackle these issues together.  I’m personally happy to have seen everyone and StocExpo has, once again, enabled discussion, networking and new business in the global tank storage industry.”

A delegate at the event, Sachin Mohanani, Terminal Operations Analyst at Shell, says, “You get a lot more out of it in person, particularly when it comes to networking.  There’s been lots of topical information about energy transition and security and it’s been really valuable to be here and get insights from our energy partners directly.”

The sector stayed active even throughout the most stringent lockdown, but in-person interaction has remained a rare exception for almost two years.

“This whole time, the sector wasn’t idling—the manufacturers were adjusting their development strategies, at times drastically revising them. A plethora of political decisions were made at the EU level, impacting the industry in one way or another. Now is the time of real turbulence due to geopolitical shocks. It has been extremely interesting and useful to learn and understand which roadmaps underpin the development of certain businesses that are indeed the industry’s driving force, and also to feel the rhythm of the sector at large,” says Andrejs Višņausks, a Board member at SABER EVNAT (Latvia).

The company stand at the expo featured its own technical solution for jet mixing of liquids. When employed for bulk liquid storage tanks, EVNAT technology eliminates sedimentation, which significantly boosts efficiency during production, transhipment, and storage. Cutting losses, enhancing the industry’s resilience, environmental impact reduction and reasonable (as opposed to wasteful) use of components—currently, all that is the perfect fit for the EU’s Green Deal and the key principles of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“And we were very happy that these principles—the ones that officials sometimes actually proclaim as political declarations—are de facto the industry’s core trends these days. Today, both large and smaller players within the sector realize: the main race is against the clock. The objectives set are extremely ambitious, and the actual deadlines to meet them aren’t that far away. The industry has been offered to be literally reborn over a fairly short time frame. With that in mind, it will be absolutely critical to stay as flexible as possible and have the will to change rapidly by bringing innovative solutions into production. This equally applies to both existing facilities and to future ones. After all, it’s not just about profits or minimizing in-house losses—reasonable use of resources matters, too. Such is the philosophy of the new age,” Mr. Višņausks adds.

From Chemistry to Food

According to the SABER EVNAT’s Board member, market players clearly understand today’s challenges. It was precisely due to the need to employ innovative solutions in production that the guests and participants of the fair were rather interested in the company’s stand.

“We were happy about the extent of interest in our technical solution—and it fully correlates to the challenges facing the industry to boost the efficiency in daily operations. Everyone understands perfectly well that reducing losses even by a few percent (and sedimentation during storage is an apparent issue in many industries) means not just tens and hundreds of millions of euros saved across Europe, but also a totally different quality of resource utilisation,” Mr. Višņausks points out.

He reminded that the solution in question is relevant for the broadest range of applications: from petrochemical and biofuel producers to food industry (e.g., storing edible oils). When stored in tanks, most liquid products—regardless of their intended use—break up into layers of fractions; heavier fractions form a precipitate that settles down at the bottom of the tank. This is plain physics.

Has Oil Become a Thing of the Past?

What is the future of the European tank storage sector? How do government initiatives geared towards the energy transition reshape the market? To what extent do current storage capacities meet future needs? How will the markets of biofuels, hydrogen, liquefied natural gas evolve? How do geopolitical factors influence the energy transition? These are just some of the issues raised by the conference speakers during panel discussions.

The EU energy sector has unequivocally declared its intention to get away from fossil fuels as much as possible. However, technical experts, industry practitioners, consider the processes involved without illusions or rose-coloured glasses. The transition to new sources and the complete abandonment of hydrocarbons is an objective so ambitious that it may at times appear impossible altogether. After all, crude oil per se is bigger than internal combustion engines. If wind, sunlight and hydrogen can generate electricity, what about everyday life? Oil is refined to make plastic, which is then used for household appliances, furniture, cars, clothes and shoes, toys and even stationery. Synthetic and vulcanized rubber, detergents, solvents, paints and lacquers, dyes, fertilizers, medicines and countless other products are derived from oil. And this is not as straightforward as kilowatt-hours of electricity—science has already found practical ways to substitute those without compromising the climate.

“We do no doubt the success of hitting the zero emissions target by 2050. The global pan-European transformation and the departure just from today’s conventional fuels—gasoline and diesel—will significantly reduce the need for oil. However, it will stay on as the inevitable choice in a huge number of areas. This means the need to store certain relevant products. This is bigger than petrochemicals alone—there’s also biofuels and the food industry. We were extremely happy about the market’s understanding of the importance of reducing losses during such storage. Our technical solution aims precisely to cut losses through enhanced efficiency,” says the SABER EVNAT’s Board member.

Got interested in the principle of operation

The guests and participants of StocExpo in Rotterdam mainly took interest in the practical aspects of implementing the Latvian company’s technologies at their production facilities.

“This is a very particular matter, and many factors are at play. For instance, the dimensions and specifications of the tanks in which we install our equipment. We also consider the physical and chemical properties of the liquid product our client works with.

Our company’s specialists perform tailored evaluation of each facility, use in-house IT solutions to run detailed calculation, then create a virtual model to help highlight current weaknesses and identify the most efficient solution to meet the objective set by the client; after that, the necessary configuration is selected, and only afterwards they go ahead with pre-commissioning.

As a result, proper in-tank circulation and mixing is attained, ensuring top efficiency for each facility and minimization of sediment. Everything is just like the EU’s strive toward zero CO2 emissions by 2050—except it’s with liquids and right now,” says A. Višņausks.

At the same time, the process itself is quite dynamic, one of the company’s top managers explains. Technologies are deployed into production quickly, enabling prompt launch of the production of improved tanks. Given proper planning, one can enhance the efficiency of an entire tank farm within a relatively short time frame. The customer gets to appreciate the outcome and economic benefit right with the first production results.

“In fact, the mixing of liquids during storage has been no secret for over half a century now. Various technologies exist. Our solution’s fundamental difference is that it tackles the issue in a totally different manner and yields high results. Putting it simply, the mixing time is shorter, whereas the mixing itself is enhanced, ensuring that the liquid maintains stable quality parameters for longer. Preliminary calculations help us determine the most efficient device design for each particular facility,” the expert explains.

That said, the liquid product storage industry as such is fairly conservative. Despite the challenges it faces, businesses are very meticulous with regard to feasibility studies for new tech adoption and its subsequent effect on production.

“We understand this full well, which is why we are glad to participate in StocExpo as well as other events of the kind specifically to get the market to meet our technology,” concluded SABER EVNAT Board member A. Višņausks.

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