On Friday January 18th early in the evening a short, intense fire occurred at ProLabNL in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Fortunately neither injuries were suffered nor did any environmental damage occur. The cause of the accident was the unexplainable rupture of a heat exchanger. Meanwhile an independent investigation has been initiated. The Lloyd’s and DNV certified facility is expected to be operational again within 12 weeks.

Friday, shortly after 5.00 pm, the fire started. Although the gas escaping from the test facility provided a spectacular fire cloud during the first few minutes, the fire was relatively quickly under control. The very efficient deployment of the fire brigade in Arnhem contributed strongly to this fact. The fire was triggered by the rupture of the shell of a heat exchanger, although operating at only half of its design pressure. A metallurgical defect is likely to have played a role. An independent investigation is carried out by TÜV from Germany. Until this event the installation has been operating incident free. It is generally considered to belong to the most sophisticated oilfield simulation facilities in industry.

Mr. Toine Hendriks, ProLabNL’s managing director said: “This obviously was our worst nightmare scenario. As our safety systems and procedures functioned fully according to the emergency plan everybody was able to leave the building in safety. Our regular safety drills paid off indeed. Because the fire was extinguished quickly the damage to the facility has remained relatively moderate. We have started the necessary repairs and expect to have the facility operational again within 12 weeks in order to continue with minimum delays our testing program. This includes the qualification of the Subsea Separation System of a major customer”.

Mrs. Margreet van Gastel, deputy mayor of the city of Arnhem confirmed: “ProLabNL’s permits are in order and comply to all current regulations. We wish ProLabNL’s personnel strength and good luck in re-commissioning their test facility”.

Note For further information please contact:

Mrs. Hermien Nieuwenhuijsen of ProLabNL