Tell me a little bit about yourself
I am Svein Tore Milwertz, Operations Manager for the AOGV. I work for IK-Group in Stavanger, but I live about 20km south of here in a small town called Ålgård. I am 33 years old, married with two kids - who are six and four - and a third on the way. We have two boys now and we are expecting a girl. That is mostly how the day goes - working and picking up from kindergarten! My weekends are mostly about spending time with the family.
Can you tell me a bit about your background? How did you get into this industry?
Yeah, I took quite a combined path. I did trade school first as an apprentice to become an electrician, then l went on to finish off all the courses that were required to be enrolled at university. Then I completed a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree and went on to do a masters in Offshore Technology, specialising in marine and subsea. That took five years at the University of Stavanger and that is how I shifted towards the oil and gas industry. My degrees offered some really interesting courses and programmes, with several exciting topics.
For IK, I did a summer internship a year before I finished my master’s degree where I did one month working in the Subsea Department. However, I graduated right as the industry completely dried up. I started back at the company where I did my apprenticeship, working as a Project Manager. A couple of years later, I suddenly got a call from the IK CTO, Christian Knutsen, saying they were hiring and asked if I would be interested in applying. I was really keen to get into the oil and gas sector since it was what my line of education was. I was asked to interview for a project engineer position in the Subsea Department and during the interview it came up that they were also hiring for a project manager for the Pipe Intervention department. The Add-On Gate Valve (AOGV) was “born” in the Pipe intervention department and has since become its own business area.
It’s been really great working on the AOGV, a new technology that changes the way the industry can perform maintenance on pressurized systems. It’s very motivating to solve issues for your clients.
Tell me more about your current role within the AOGV Department? What is it and what are your main objectives and responsibilities?
My current role is Operation Manager for AOGV. I am responsible for all AOGV projects and I also manage some of them directly. Together with the team, I do an assessment of all the projects. We then have project managers who execute the projects. I really enjoy having a close connection to the projects, the product and the execution. I am motivated by delivering successful projects and getting feedback from customers. The main objective of my role is to establish the AOGV as a standard for positive isolation of pipelines in process plants.
When you are approached by a client, what are the regular problems they have and what are the solutions you provide?
The AOGV is an isolation tool, which means that most of the cases we get are due to leaking valves or missing valves. It’s either; they should have had a valve there or the valve is not working, and that is something we see a lot. We sometimes get the impression that no valves are working offshore as they should! We get jobs from platforms that haven’t even started yet, and their valves are already leaking. We are already trying to pitch to clients to skip the valve, because when you need that valve, it is not going to work. Fix the problem with the AOGV, then you have a valve that is mounted when you need it, and it works every time.
A real success for the AOGV, would be that a client will design and build a platform with the AOGV in mind. Limiting the valves to a minimum and have a flange with enough space for the AOGV to be fitted when they then need an isolation.
Other cases we get could be that they have some issues with draining or large volumes to gas free. If they have very large volumes to be drained or gas freed, we can isolate and limit that volume. We can isolate closer to where they are going to perform the actual work thereby limiting the affected volume.
One of the key benefits of the AOGV is that it provides a positive isolation. It is better than a valve. It inserts a spectacle blind, which is the highest-grade isolation class in the industry, creating a zero-energy zone were inspection and maintenance work can be performed safely and efficient without requiring a complete shutdown of the main process.
Can you give me some examples of projects you have undertaken, that you are particularly proud of?
Yeah, it was a project that we did last summer. We did a 3” Class 1500 AOGV, where we designed, fabricated and tested a 155bar AOGV in six weeks. We went offshore directly after and executed the isolation so that they could replace a valve before their shutdown. They had a shutdown scheduled that required the valve to work. That was an extremely tightly scheduled project, and it’s also the highest pressure we’ve ever done. We set the AOGV record, both in project time and in operation pressure. The project had many challenges to overcome. It was during the summer, everyone was on vacation, we had to pull-in a lot of people and work close to 24hr days for weeks. Normally, we would provide a 20-week delivery time for a project like that. When the project was completed without any incidents and on time, the client was very happy.
Another one that stands out was when we did the pilot project for one of the supermajors at an onshore facility. We isolated a butane loading line that was quite a long pipeline, where they had a leaking flow- metre. We provided a positive isolation and a safe working barrier in the line and facilitated replacement of the leaking flow metre. The client was really active throughout the entire project, they attended weeks of FAT in our workshop and brought along specialists to assess. The job on site required a lot of different people for scaffolding and various other parts, we were an integral part of a fairly big operation. It was also a great success; the client was very happy.
You’ve clearly been part of a number of exciting projects throughout your career so far, where do you see yourself in 10 years' time?
I am hoping I will still be solving problems for clients, on an even bigger scale. Hopefully the AOGV has taken its place and become even more established in many more countries and is being deployed by other companies. We have trained other companies to perform AOGV jobs, we have someone to manufacture them, we have a fleet. Maybe even partner companies all around the world; the Middle East, Australia, The US, where they all have their own fleet of tools and they come to us on advice on special projects that we head up and advise on. That is sort of a goal - Helping others to solve problems.
And finally, what would you say are the top challenges facing our industry right now?
One of them is to be able to change according to the worlds perception on the industry. To reduce the carbon footprint and reduce other emissions. It is about finding its place in the changing climate of publicity. It has to adapt, and the publics acceptance has been gaining importance. Everything is public, everything is open and that sets a lot higher requirements for all businesses to be transparent and fair and to always act in the highest ethics and standards. Transparency and openness are so important, we need to be perfect in every way of conducting business. Especially with the extra focus this industry has, it has to be perfect in dealing with people, nature and everything needs to be handled perfectly at all steps.
The AOGV does have an environmental factor where we reduce the volume to clean or gas free, thus reducing waste, emissions and required energy consumption.
Keen to know more about The AOGV's capabilities? You can contact Svein via email here.