Geir Fillip Haseth is a brave man. Every day, come sun, high winds or driving rain, he sails his small boat from Fræna to work at the Nyhamna gas processing plant on the far side of the fjord.

The plant receives natural gas from the Ormen Lange deep-water field 120 kilometres (75 miles) offshore, removes impurities from it, then pipes it to the UK, where it meets around 20% of the country’s gas needs.

Geir Fillip’s choice of transport might be traditional, but his job developing new technologies is anything but.  

“We combine our knowledge of operations and technology with a natural curiosity to constantly explore more efficient ways of doing things,” he says.

The scale of the operation, which sends up to 70 million cubic metres of gas a day to the UK, demands in-depth planning to safely and efficiently manage hundreds of people working across the site. With the plant now expanding to receive gas from more fields, Geir came up with the idea of connecting teams around the site using iPads and a new app to manage the task better.

“The app provides an overview of everything happening on site and highlights any potential conflicts,” says Geir. “Staff on site update progress in real time using their iPads, improving accuracy, efficiency and safety.”

Robot eyes and ears

Each of the 256 tanks and vessels at Nyhamna must be checked periodically for flaws including corrosion. In the past this meant sealing off and emptying tanks before engineers could safely go inside – a time-consuming process that affects productivity.

But in 2010, inspection engineer, Eivind Gronseth started work on a new method with designers at Linjebygg Offshore in Norway, and German firm Wälischmiller Engineering.

Together, they adapted a robot to perform tank inspections. The Telbot TB 100 has a mechanical arm which holds a high-definition camera and a detailed 3D model of the tank in its memory. A long, flexible arm allows the camera to take close-ups anywhere inside the tank. Video footage is relayed back to a control centre where a human inspector looks for flaws and decides how to act. Similar robots cleared away radioactive debris after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

In 2012, the Telbot inspected four of the larger tanks at Nyhamna, helping inspectors save nearly a week. Shorter inspections mean the plant can supply gas for longer.

“These arms could change the future of inspections,” says Eivind. “If we can save even one or two days of production stoppages, it would have a positive impact on productivity and increase safety.”

More in about us

Ormen Lange overview

Read key facts about the Ormen Lange project and find out about its history, the technology used, and Shell’s environmental approach.

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