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Re-development oilfield Schoonebeek


NAM is executing her plans to re-develop oil exploration at the Schoonebeek Oilfield. To this end the company is  tightening her ties with Zappey, now the Vos Mechanical Branch at Schoonebeek.
The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij B.V. (NAM) is 90% active in natural gas exploration and 10% in oil exploration. At this moment NAM exploits small oilfields near Rotterdam on the North Sea and she plans to revitalise exploration at Schoonebeek in Drenthe in the near future. To this end she renewed her ties with the local supplier Zappey – now a Vos Mechanical branch in Schoonebeek -  with whom she has worked with for decennia in the past.
NAM started exploitation of the oilfield at Schoonebeek  (near Emmen) in 1947. Arie Kroeze, responsible for the Supply Chain Management at NAM: “We exploited at Schoonebeek till 1996. We stopped because it was no longer profitable. A lot of water came to the surface with the oil. The ratio oil to water was getting worse while oil prices kept dropping. The oil in Schoonebeek is tough and syrupy. NAM decided to stop exploitation with the present techniques. However, we expected to revitalise this oilfield when new techniques were developed and profitability could be improved. New studies have indicated that revitalising this oilfield with new technology is economically viable.”

Vos Mechanical at Schoonebeek is active as manufacturer of appliances and piping systems for, amongst others, the oil, gas and petrochemical industries. Semi nuclear installation are also part of the package.
Gert Jolink together with Willem Cannegieter manager for the business unit air-cooled heat exchangers, so-called Airfincoolers  at Vos Mechanical: “We have been making these airfincoolers since 1970. Other business units are: projects, service and maintenance, manufacture, energy (active in boiler building) and skid building. The latter is the manufacture of appliances built on a skid which is ready for use in the field.” Vos Mechanical and NAM have been working together since 1953 as suppliers for new manufacture and maintenance for industrial appliances. Gert Jolink: “We go back a long way and actually NAM was our biggest customer for decennia. Since the shutdown of the oilfield in Schoonebeek in 1996 less work was generated by NAM for Vos Mechanical.”

The egg of Columbus: horizontal production technology

The actual revitalization of the Schoonebeek Oilfield is a very large project. Arie Kroeze: “We recognise various areas. We have a power station for producing steam. We need ultra pure water that will be supplied by a new factory to be built near the sewerage purifying plant at Emmen. The steam will be injected via an underground piping system in the oilfield. The oil will be heated at a depth of 800 meters. The steam injection causes the oil to liquefy. Oil in its natural form is too thick to raise to the surface. The steam is no longer injected round a vertical well but horizontally hundreds of meters under the surface. This is a new and far more effective horizontal production technique which in the future will only require 73 wells. This has a positive effect on the surrounding landscape.
Within this new process a combination of water and oil will come to the surface where both components will be separated by the Oil treatment installation.”


The oil is transported via a pipeline to a BP Refinery at Lingen in Germany where it will be processed. The production water is injected 3 km deep into empty gas fields in Twente. The heat in the production water is first utilized in the process at the power station. But this has its limits. That is why extra cooling is necessary so that the temperature is low enough to be pumped to Twente - this will be realised with the assistance of Airfincoolers.
Because of the composition of the medium that is past through the coolers, the coolers must be corrosion resistant. The quantity of water also requires large measurements of the coolers.


Gert Jolink: “We deliver Airfincoolers for this specific purpose. These are custom-built especially where it concerns cooling capacity and material choice. The system already exists. We adapt the measurements to the demands of NAM.” It concerns a thermal design of Air-cooled Heat Exchangers with the assistance of H.T.R.I.
The mechanical design is executed according to all relevant international codes. Vos Mechanical is responsible for the design, manufacture, testing and putting into operation of these two Air-cooled Exchangers. “We have delivered Airfincoolers before to Oil refineries and oil and gas producers” according to Gert Jolink. To give an indication: 416.000 kg. of water passes through the cooler. The water itself is cooled from 70 to 50 degrees Celsius. Gert Jolink: “Two Airfincoolers are installed. The largest cooler is meant to cool the produced water that is injected into old gas fields. This cooler is 12 meters long and 9 meters wide – an enormous installation. The composition of the medium requires durable Duplex material, while the applied welding technique must comply to very strict demands. In this way eight hundred heat exchange pipes are welded into the coolers with automatic orbital welding machines. The cool air is blown around the cooling pipes with large soundproof ventilators. The demands for sound reduction is high as the units are situated in built-up areas.”

Chosen on the basis of formalised out-contracting procedures
In 2007 it was decided to revitalise the oilfield. In 2008 a large contract was granted to a consortium of four companies for the design and execution of the reconstruction. Arie Kroeze: “For the coolers that we required we invited quotations from several parties. Eventually we chose Vos Mechanical as qualified partner for this part of the project on the basis of technique, price and local representation. NAM will do much physically in Schoonebeek. Where conditions, price, etc. of suppliers are equal, we prefer to work with local suppliers - in this case Vos Mechanical. The local presence alone cannot be decisive in the granting of contracts by NAM. Vos Mechanical has proven that Airfincoolers is the best partner on the basis of their submitted plan.  During the summer of 2009 Airfincoolers will be installed on the basis of a detailed production procedure formulated by Vos Mechanical. We expect to begin producing oil as from July 1st 2010. The perspective for the future is that oil will be produced for the next 25 years, with the option to further expand the oilfield at Schoonebeek.”