Specially made equipment for extreme environments

In order to adapt to the specific needs of the petroleum and natural gas sector, one SME in Languedoc-Roussillon is rolling up its sleeves, expanding and working in partnership with its customers, side by side right from the design phase of their project.

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Butterfly valves for a refinery shutdown in the open sea in the Gulf of Guinea, Congo. Courtesy of Versaserv Butterfly valves for a refinery shutdown in the open sea in the Gulf of Guinea, Congo. Courtesy of Versaserv

An industrial estate in Béziers, south-east France. A brand new 3 000 m² facility, topped with solar panels. Inside, a series of brightly coloured components that are the stuff a mechanics enthusiast’s dreams are made of: reduction gears, piston or pressure-retaining valves, limit switch boxes, gauge glasses, control valves, compressor valves, flow regulator valves, etc. The workshop is equipped with lifting gear and assembly and test equipment to allow for the maintenance and upkeep of this highly sophisticated plumbing. It’s largely thanks to the support of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) that Christophe Antunez, Managing Director of Versaserv, was able to create this new workshop.

Moving beyond standardisation

“Without this building, we couldn’t take advantage of the specific market opportunity that we wanted to, namely moving beyond the standardisation that is too often typical of companies in the petroleum and natural gas sectors. These are booming sectors at a time when energy is becoming one of the main concerns of the economy and society as a whole. Our added value is our closeness to the customer, which allows us to adapt unique products to the highly challenging constraints that we regularly encounter in petroleum and natural gas settings.”

  • Christophe Antunez, Managing Director of Versaserv

Made to measure equipment for a field that isn’t easy. Energy resources are often located in politically sensitive regions, where air links can be unpredictable. The equipment is intended for facilities located in geologically extreme environments. In addition, some components like “simple” valves have to withstand extreme conditions of use from cryogenics (-100°) to steam discharge (+570°), requiring an exceptional level of resistance.

The benefits of partnership

The key word at Versaserv is partnership. Its technicians have been commercially trained so that they can establish close relationships with customers, relying on their ability to grasp customers’ specific needs in any given individual case. Collaboration between the enterprise and the customer is established right from the design phase of a project.

Christophe Antunez also favours partnerships with certain major specialist enterprises that have their own research and development divisions. The Béziers-based SME represents them in a sector that they had not previously looked into. In exchange, “these partnerships allow us to deliver a complete project, and most importantly to have the support of all the other research units to assist our own, while fulfilling orders within very short timescales with products adapted to each customer and each usage.

Total investment and EU funding

The project “Manufacture of piping valves and fittings for the petroleum and natural gas industries at Versaserv in Béziers” has a total investment of EUR 2 000 000. The European Regional Development Fund’s contribution is EUR 150 000 as part of the “Languedoc-Roussillon” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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