Standic: Standic, now having three terminals in Dordrecht and Antwerp, is a subsidiary of the Hametha group, a family business. A company that also wishes to hold on to the “family feeling” in its company genes. Standic has an open-door policy and short communication lines. The tank storage company of ‘De Haan Oil Storage’ is also part of this group. The terminal in Dordrecht was taken over from ‘Koninklijke VOPAK’ (Royal VOPAK) in 2008 and since then storage capacity has been doubled. By the way, the origin of that tank terminal is much older, as the terminal was built in 1958 by the Broere Brothers. Furthermore, Hametha also owns some 160 petrol stations in the Netherlands. Expanding the tank storage capacity is a well-considered choice. The energy transition makes that we are all working hard to provide storage for products other than fossil fuels, and this makes that the company has a very stable basis. The terminal in Dordrecht provides storage for a variety of products such as base oils, biofuels and also chemical products. In 2020 the ambition for further expansion of storage capacity was converted into the construction of the new tank terminal in Antwerp. Speaking of which, this terminal is entirely intended for chemical products.
Managing Director Bert van Holst: Our today’s conversation was with Bert van Holst, Managing Director of Standic Dordrecht. Bert started at Standic in 2018. The Managing Director of that time, Ronald Ooms, wanted to focus on further developing the plan to start a terminal in the Antwerp region, and so the position of managing Director in Dordrecht became vacant. This, by the way, meant that Bert also became directly responsible for managing the De Haan terminal. In previous employment, Bert had gained extensive experience in managing more than one terminal and this new challenge at Standic felt like it was tailor made for him.
Trust: Standic’s owner, Arnold de Haan, inspires the group and its employees and instils them with a great feeling of trust and confidence. He counts and relies on the know-how and expertise of his employees. In the Standic organisation you are definitely not a number, you are known by your name. That is a typical feature of Standic DNA.
A new terminal: A new terminal in Antwerp also meant a new line of approach for Standic, as the chemical industry faces a growing demand for storage capacity. Building a new terminal is not done in the twinkling of an eye. For about five years, discussions were held with the Port Authority of Antwerp regarding a construction site of a tank storage terminal in the Scheldt port (Scheldehaven). A good location in the port of Antwerp also creates good international opportunities and contacts. Another, positive, advantage is that specifically the chemical industry presents a steady growth for future, smaller, volumes of chemical products. The Antwerp chemical cluster is, by the way, one of the ten largest in the world. The Antwerp terminal is a fully dedicated one. Each storage unit is equipped with its own pumps, loading arms and dock pipes. This eliminates contamination with other products. Also, with regard to the technical installation and in view of the problem of getting skilled and well-trained personnel, we opted for a high degree of automation. This choice sees to it that the terminal produces a continuous quantity of products of a constant quality. A total of 179 storage tanks with a total capacity of 249,000 m3 will be built in phases 1, 2 and 3. Loading takes place from and to tank lorries and tankers. Here, too, there is a great deal of automation. A truck arrives at the terminal, is registered after recognition by means of Artificial Intelligence and is then given access to the terminal. When there is space on the weighbridge, the lorry is called to drive to it. When the correct loading arm is free for loading, the lorry will be directed to that arm and loading will start after coupling. By using this technique, time is saved, there is no contamination and errors are reduced to an absolute minimum. If you could work with regular transporters and drivers, this method would also provide a very natural and revolutionary next step. In that case the driver himself could take care of loading and unloading. But we’re not there yet.
This new and innovative tank terminal structure certainly causes some raised eyebrows from Standic's competitors. The Belgian government too has left its mark on the tank terminal, especially in the start-up stage, when they were particularly attentive to the plans and their further development. That took some getting used to, since the Belgian culture definitely differs from Dutch culture. Standic endeavours to train its employees in a multifunctional way. As safety at and around the terminal is regarded as the most important issue, an employee must be agile and thus be able to wear various hats. Belgium often has several tiers in an organisation. But in this respect, too, our Dutch and Belgian colleagues are learning from each other.
Collaboration with TP Europe: The collaboration with TP Europe dates back to 2015. Standic, whose contact person was John Bakker, felt the need to measure its diffuse emission more accurately. The performing party had to be a service provider that could guarantee continuity into the future and had to be innovative with a capital I. In addition, they had to be flexible and considerate and the cooperation between the inspectors and our maintenance-and-environment staff had to work like a well-oiled machine. The nice thing is that the employee mentality of Standic and TP Europe is very similar. And this creates a bond. And so, because of this, leaks if any are repaired within a very short period of time. Sometimes even while the project is still ongoing, whereas a statutory period of 2 months applies.
Energy Savings: By now 2022 has arrived and Standic has outsourced all its emission-related measurements to TP Europe. This varies from the annual LDAR-project to the internal Energy Savings programme. In the Netherlands, Standic is a company to which the Major Accidents (Risks) Decree 1999 (BRZO) applies and in Antwerp it is a Seveso-related company. Considerable amounts of energy are consumed annually, meaning that in addition to the annual environment plan, energy consumption must also be scrutinised in order to implement improvements where possible. In the meantime, we have been monitoring the networks for nitrogen, compressed air and steam for three years. In the first year TP Europe’s measurements revealed that there was a total energy loss of more than € 30,000 due to leaks in these networks. Thanks to the good communication and collaboration of our maintenance department and the TP Europe inspectors, we have now been able to reduce this to an acceptable € 6,000.00 per year.
Tips for our industry peers: We already mentioned the involvement of employees, and how to convince employees to stay on board. You should invest in them and not be too afraid that they might leave the company. By continuing to invest in our personnel, we maintain our quality. We present them with a good indication of the internal growth opportunities, which is necessary because we rely on the knowledge of our employees. Another aspect is that you need to keep abreast of the technical possibilities and applications. After all, that development is just going on, isn't it? The tank terminal technology from 1960 is no longer the technology we use today. So stay up-to-date! In addition, we feel the pressure from governments. Legislation changes, so go with the flow. Also, be transparent to the government, this yields a much better relationship with the government.
Future: How does the future for Standic look like and what investments are being made? On the one hand there are technical investments, in short, the construction and maintenance of the installation which enable us to provide our services and products. Apart from that we also invest in our employees. It is of the utmost importance to hold on to our personnel and to secure their know-how and quality. Our installation may be very high tech, but our employees are the ones that really make a difference. The difference lies in the contract performance. That is why we consider it extremely important to keep our employees involved in the organisation and to reward their loyalty. Because of the energy transition, we are forced to look at a terminal from a different perspective. After all, new installations are not developed to last just a few years. A tank terminal just needs to withstand 60 years. However, demand from the market will surely change. So, in terms of storage, it must be possible to deploy a tank terminal in more than one way. And exactly this approach has now been further developed, especially in Antwerp. But in Dordrecht, too, the development is not at a standstill and we are working hard to realise an expansion in the coming years. The pilot studies are in a well-advanced phase.
Standic is a thoroughly sound company: It has a strong historic basis to lean on, which supports it into the future and it does not avoid innovations arising from the energy transition.