Issue 11 2010
Founded in 1978, Hobré Instruments’ core business is in the supply of online process analysers for the oil and gas industry.
It has a global reputation for total solutions assembled from both top brand products and its own equipment developed in-house. As well as the oil and gas industry, Hobré supplies to the petrochemical market and has a leading international position in the manufacture of special analyser solutions for early fire detection in spray dryers.
Hobré understands that the diverse requirements of analysers and the specific needs of processes and clients mean that standard systems only offer a compromised performance. In response to this, each Hobré system is specifically designed to meet the customer’s individual demands. Managing director, Jeannot Kok comments: “We manufacture systems to support our process analysers and in that way we add value by looking at customer applications and working to find the right solution for conducting these process measurements. Within the online process analyser market, we also distribute products for third party manufacturers in north-west Europe.”
These solutions are produced for major companies in the oil and gas industry including Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Nexen and Total for upstream, midstream and downstream process analysis. Hobré has worked on projects across the globe in a range of, often challenging, environments from the arctic to the desert. “Based in the Netherlands, approximately 80 per cent of our business is within the export market. As a company we concentrate on the northwest of Europe including the UK, Scandinavian, German and Finnish markets. Our fire detection system for the food industry is distributed worldwide to areas such as the south of Europe, North and South America and East Asia,” says Jeannot.
With such big names in the order book, Jeannot describes what sets Hobré apart from the competition: “The extensive experience and design technology that we have developed over the years means that we are able to advise our customers on the best solution for their specific application. We not only look at the required results, but also the cost of ownership for the client to ensure a practical and efficient solution, which helps to improve production processes. This solution may be our own product, those of a third party manufacturer or products that we procure from other suppliers.”
In response to the need for application solutions, which were not addressed by existing measuring instruments, Hobré developed its own product solution through its in-house research and development department. This includes the WIM Wobbe Index analyser, which was developed in collaboration with Dutch gas transport company Gasunie, in order to ensure consistent quality in the blending of natural gases. Recently Hobré has developed a new Hilase process analyser incorporating a photo-acoustic detector, which Jeannot elaborates on: “The new Hilase analyser is specifically designed for the detection of a range of compounds in gas, like H2S and H2O. This is a new technology which uses a tuneable diode laser (TDL) to agitate the individual compounds in a sample, the sound of which is then detected by very sensitive microphones and the wavelength data translated to measure the levels of the different components.” An innovative step forwards, the Hilase incorporates a combination of features not available with other technology, including no moving parts, full separation of photo-acoustic measuring cell and electronics, fast 20 second response time, multi-stream analysis and ATEX zone one certification.
One of the most popular systems that Hobré produces for the oil and gas industry is the new WIM Compas series, which measures the Wobbe Index, combustion air requirement (CARI) and calorific value of natural and fuel gases. “The WIM Compas not only enables clients to improve their processes but also helps to reduce the environmental impact of these operations. Refineries, furnaces and boilers can all be exposed to frequent and sudden changes in fuel gas composition, which not only affects the combustion process but also can produce unwanted emissions. The WIM Compas measures and monitors this fuel gas so clients have greater control over quality,” explains Jeannot. With a mere five second analysis time, the WIM Compas is the fastest Wobbe Index analyser on the market and is available in three models to meet even the most specialist requirements.
Jeannot describes how Hobré’s project-specific approach translates into successful contracts: “We undertook a project for a UK operator on an offshore platform, where for which we supplied multiple H2S process analysers to monitor the level of H2S in the produced oil and gas and ensure it is within certain limits. The analysers, used in a SIL2 rated ESD system, play a key role in protecting the crude oil pipeline. Working with our client we developed a complete solution, which not only incorporated the performance of the analysers but took into account the hostile environment. Equipment on platforms often undergoes extreme environmental conditions, which can influence the operation of the analyser, so the whole system was built into three separate houses, one of which was environmentally tested in Germany to simulate the most extreme conditions on the platform.”
A prominent name in the process analyser market, Hobré intends to continue to develop this status on a global basis. Commenting on the future plans of the business Jeannot concludes: “Although the export market currently makes up a large percentage of our current business we have barely touched the surface of the total market. Over the last year and a half we have concentrated on securing qualified distributors in different areas of the world, and with the introduction of the new WIM Compas and Hilase we see plenty of opportunities for Hobré in the future. We expect a growth of 15 to 20 per cent every year for the next few years, with the overall intention of expanding the company by 50 to 100 per cent.”
Products: On-line process analysers