SGS Nederland B.V.
Inspect a gadget
SGS Nederland B.V. is the Dutch subsidiary of SGS, which is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company.
The group employs more than 59,000 personnel across over 1,000 global offices, and it is dedicated to improving the quality, safety, performance and efficiency for a range of industries, including agricultural, automotive, consumer testing, environmental, governments, industrial, life science, minerals and oil, gas and chemicals.
The group was established in 1878, and its roots were originally based around offering agricultural inspection services to grain traders throughout Europe. The company continued to grow in size and scope in the following years, and its agricultural inspection services spread around the world until the mid 20th century, when it began to diversify into other sectors. By 1981, SGS was a publically listed business.
Amongst the many sectors served by the SGS group today, the company is the market leader in independent inspection, testing, verification and specialised technical services to the oil, gas and chemical industries. Here, SGS is committed to adding value for its customers by helping them maintain their reputations for quality, whilst reducing both commercial and environmental risks associated with production, trading, distribution and storage of oil, gas and chemicals.
SGS Nederland itself offers its services by individual business lines, which cover a wide range of markets. Within these is the Oil, Gas and Chemical (OGC) Services division, which employs more than 600 people across the country. Gerrit Vermeiren, business manager for this division, elaborates upon the services that it provides: “We deliver a wide range of solutions to the oil, gas and chemicals sector, working with companies active from the point of exploration all the way up to distribution to the end user. Our role is to organise and conduct any testing, inspection and verification that takes place in between these two stages.
“The OGC division operates from five sites across the country, which include a laboratory each in the in the southern city of Rotterdam and the northeastern city of Delfzijl. The main OGC head office and Laboratory is located in Rotterdam-Spijkenisse, but we operate a large unit and laboratory in Amsterdam mainly specialised in the blending of oil products.”
Services provided through these facilities include oil, gas and chemicals training and seminars, as well as oil conditioning monitoring – the latter of which the company has dubbed ‘Oilscan’. This involves closely monitoring the changes in the concentration of metals and other contaminants collected by the oil.
By analysing lubricating oil, greases and hydraulic fluids, SGS can obtain accurate information with regards to what is happening within the machine, helping to equip users with an early warning to help prepare them for potential problems. This early diagnosis of faults allows customers to schedule maintenance to avoid costly failures, and it also prevents unscheduled downtimes or damage to expensive plants. Not only does SGS carry out this sampling, but it can also provide customers with easy-to-use kits to conduct the tests on their own.
SGS Nederland works with many key global players within the oil, gas and chemical sector, according to Gerrit: “Our clients range from international oil majors like BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Kuwait Petroleum, etc, through to the mid-sized, business-to-business industry. We also work frequently with leading players at a national level, and this includes the likes of Shell and Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM), which is the largest producer of natural gas in the Netherlands. Our role with these major clients is to arrange the supply chain in such a way as to ensure the safe and efficient distribution of their products.”
The company’s ability to secure contracts with such companies stems from a range of key strengths, according to Gerrit. He explains: “SGS is a global player, and we are very proud that as such we are able to deliver a vast array of testing and inspection services to so many different industries. We naturally have competitors, although most of these work in one or a few segments, or have their operations limited to just a few countries or regions. Our position is a truly global one, and the network we have built up over the years has given us a reputation that helps us stay at the top.”
Of all of SGS Nederland services within its OGC division, Gerrit highlights one of its most important areas for the company at present: “We have recently acquired Horizon B.V., a Dutch company that provides geological assessments and studies of oil and gas fields. This was a strategic move of our business, and it signals our expansion into the upstream segment of the oil and gas industry. Another focus for the future is to lift the burden from our clients’ shoulders by Outsourcing of their laboratories and to manage these for them. We have the resources available to improve the efficiency of their laboratory activities, and we want them to be able to take advantage of this.”
SGS Nederland is also focusing on many other projects that continue to underlie its growth. One of these areas is the sustainability of its products and services, as Gerrit highlights: “Clients are looking more and more towards sustainability verification and certification – they want to know where their products come from, how they are made and where they are sold. Ethical, environmental and social responsibilities must be upheld when it comes to sourcing the product and we are doing all we can to further our efforts in this area.”
When discussing the future of the OCG division of SGS Netherlands, Gerrit is of the belief that it is the changing chemicals industry that could shape the company’s direction, rather than the oil and gas industry. He explains: “There has been a significant amount of downsizing in the chemical industry in recent times, and most new refineries are being built in developing countries like China or India. However contradictory to the phasing out of the chemical industry here in Europe, we believe that there will be a lot of opportunities for us – particularly in the outsourcing of laboratories. The refineries that are here in the Netherlands will remain, and someone will need to operate them. This provides for new players in the market to secure the local business and industry.
“Also within the chemicals industry, we expect that the distribution sector will pay a larger role in the future, with more terminals and storage facilities appearing around the world. Whilst production in the Netherlands may decrease, there is certainly belief that there will be a greater need for companies that distribute produce from one country to another, and this is where we can contribute. That gives us a lot more possibility, and much more chance for growth than we expected after the economical crisis.”
Despite this, the growth of SGS will depend on the success of all its business lines – and not just its forays into the oil, gas and chemicals market. Gerrit concludes: “In general, we hope to expand in new areas. We also recently acquired Intron B.V., a major player in the building concept inspection sector earlier this year, and we hope to expand into the area of building material testing as a result. We will also improve our current business lines where we can through organic growth, but this will not stop us from seeking out expansion through external means.”
SGS Nederland B.V.
Services: Oil, gas and chemical testing and inspection