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  • Dear Readers!

    Many people in Europe could hardly believe the news when they woke up on 24 June to discover a slim majority of Britons had voted in favour of Brexit. Leading economists, politicians, business people, artists and scientists had repeatedly called for the UK to remain in the EU so that the problems of globalisation could be tackled together as one strong community. Their words were in vain; the majority of Britons decided that the best way forward was to take a step back towards the sup­posedly good old days of 'splendid isolation'. No-one at that time, however, could have anticipated that this was just a precursor of an even bigger political earthquake. On 08.11. American voters elected Donald Trump to be their next president. Never before had the country experienced such a populist movement and his comments do not bode well either for the global economy or for a peaceful co-existence between nations. Only time will tell whether or to what extent President Trump will try and change global economic and political structures. Only then will we be able to see what impact this will all have on Europe. However, no matter how much the new President tries to deny the very existence of climate change, there is one thing that is clear right now: the world’s population will continue to grow and the challenges of meeting people’s needs and tackling the planet’s environmental problems will not become easier in the future. Our recommendation to Donald Trump, therefore, would be to take a look at the country of his ancestors – at Germany, where solutions are already being developed to create a sustainable supply of raw materials for the future.  

    Over 40 years ago, when the recycling sector was just beginning to find its feet in Germany (thanks also to the many contributions made by REMONDIS), there were approx. 3.5 billion people living on our planet. At that time, recycling was considered by many to be nothing more than a bit of a gimmick. The world had enough raw materials and plenty of space for storing waste – so why do more than we have to? The human race needed just under 100,000 years to reach 3.5 billion people. This figure has doubled within just 40 years! By 2050, it is expected to rise to 10 billion. The so-called Earth Overshoot Day, the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year, was even earlier this year: on 08 August. Since then, we have effectively been living as if we have a second planet to fall back on.

    The recycling sector already offers solutions to these problems at a number of different levels: supplying raw materials, generating energy, protecting water supplies and the environment, curbing global warming and even taking on social responsibilities. 14% of the raw materials used in Germany are supplied by the recycling industry, an important step to separating economic growth and the consumption of natural resources from one another. If our production processes are to be sustainable and affordable in the future, then all products and raw materials must be recovered and reused. For this to be possible, however, politicians around the world must drive this development and introduce ambitious laws to ensure it happens. We need higher recycling targets and mandatory ecodesign guidelines that force manufacturers to design their products so that they can be fully recycled once they reach the end of their useful life.

    Recycling would be become mandatory in a future where all raw materials and products – no matter whether it be a smartphone, car or plane – must be designed in line with ecological criteria. Children working in mines in third world countries would be a thing of the past. Wars would no longer be fought to gain access to natural resources. Innovative processes would mean that our wastewater could be used to produce clean drinking water and as a source of phosphorus for fertilisers, building supplies and energy. Collecting and recycling organic waste around the globe and turning it into high quality compost or using it to generate renewable energy would, for the most part, solve the problem of climate change – and also provide great prospects for growth.

    With this optimistic look into the future, may I wish you and your families a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

    Ludger Rethmann

Specialists at work

  • The same vitally important scenario can be seen at large plants, such as refineries, every few years: whole plant sections are temporarily closed down so that they can be overhauled, cleaned and inspected. As was the case at Statoil’s Mongstad refinery in Norway. It had commissioned XERVON’s maintenance specialists to perform extensive tasks – planning, coordinating and implementing the project.

Project planned well in advance

  • Mongstad refinery is the largest of its kind in Norway and is situated on the west coast approx. 80 kilometres north of Bergen. This was not the first time XERVON Instandhaltung GmbH had travelled to the plant: two years ago, a team of their specialists spent several weeks there carrying out maintenance work, demonstrating their expertise and the high quality of their work. At the beginning of 2016, the company was then awarded a further contract to carry out this far more complex project. This involved a so-called turnaround (i.e. the whole plant had to be shut down) which meant starting the preparation work months in advance.

    The state-of-the-art refinery in Mongstad processes around 12 million tonnes of crude oil every year. Most of this oil comes from the continental shelf along the Norwegian coast

Specialists collaborating together

  • XERVON Instandhaltung GmbH was appointed the main contractor giving it full responsibility for the wide variety of tasks that needed to be carried out. These ranged from working on the heat exchangers and air coolers, to servicing containers, columns and furnaces and dismantling and installing fittings, all the way through to performing welding work on the pipes and machines. Besides this, the company was also in charge of planning and coordinating the different tasks as well as all cleaning, inspection, scaffolding, insulation and crane work for the above-mentioned plant sections.

    With over 50 years’ experience and more than 500 successfully completed projects under its belt, XERVON Instandhaltung GmbH is a competent partner for plant shutdowns, no matter what their size.

    All of XERVON’s activities were carried out in cooperation with Statoil’s own planning team as well as with the other service providers present on site. Once again, the close collaboration between the two REMONDIS companies, XERVON and BUCHEN, proved to be extremely successful. As with so many other joint projects in the past, the BUCHEN specialists were responsible for the industrial cleaning work at Mongstad. All in all, XERVON Instandhaltung GmbH and its partners deployed the biggest team of employees – with 445 specialists travelling to the refinery in Norway to ensure the turnaround was completed successfully.

Much shorter downtime

  • The extensive range of tasks that XERVON Instandhaltung GmbH was responsible for as the main contractor was performed from 12 to 30 September 2016. This extremely tight schedule was a success in itself with the work being completed in just 19 days. Previous turnarounds had lasted much longer – between 24 and 30 days. Thomas Kramel, managing director of XERVON Instandhaltung GmbH, commented: “We were able to show how the downtime can be reduced and, consequently, how costs can be cut. Whilst always delivering a top quality performance.”

    Many of XERVON’S employees moved into temporary accommodation close to the refinery whilst they planned and executed the project.

    Besides delivering high quality work and keeping to the agreed budget and schedule for the Norwegian turnaround project, the company also gave top priority to all matters concerning work safety. Their task here was to ensure that all those working on the project adhered to the stringent safety regulations at all times. The smart system used by the company to approve and allow the different tasks to be carried out is just one example of the many measures they had in place to make sure this was the case. There were also very strict rules regulating how the work itself should be performed. The tools, for example, had to be attached to special devices to prevent them from falling down. Despite all this, the XERVON team performed their work in the usual fast and reliable manner. Two years ago, the refinery operators had singled out the company expressing their great satisfaction with XERVON’s stringent safety standards and professionalism – once again they were able to reaffirm the high quality of their services.

Scandinavian hub for oil and gas

  • Mongstad is owned by Statoil. Established in 1972, Statoil is the largest oil and gas company in the Nordic countries and has business operations all around the world. The refinery is also home to a pilot plant which is currently looking at storing carbon dioxide in the sea bed as a means to help curb global warming. Mongstad’s oil terminal acts as a temporary storage facility for many of Norway’s oil fields and is the second-largest transhipment port for crude oil in Europe following Rotterdam.

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