SUEZ Breaks Ground on Upstream, Downstream Research Facility
SUEZ Water Technologies and Solutions broke ground on a new laboratory that the company hopes will help expand its focus on researching global upstream and downstream applications.
Located in Tomball, Texas, approximately 35 miles northwest of Houston, the laboratory was designed to increase SUEZ’s digital capabilities. The company plans to develop new chemistries for industrial processes to help increase run lengths, reduce maintenance costs, and eliminate unplanned outages. It will also develop customized experimental simulation capabilities that closely mimic offshore field environments. In addition, it will have a technical training center for engineers and scientists.
Amy Ericson, global business leader for chemicals and monitoring solutions at SUEZ, said the company will also focus on analytic instrumentation and material testing, with an increased emphasis on sensors and monitoring.
“Our research facilities are really key to our culture of innovation,” Ericson said. “The way I see this facility is just as the next chapter in our continuing to push those technology limits.”
Ericson said that the company has invested in analytical instrumentation to improve its oil and materials testing services and incorporate new data output digital management systems to interface with InSight, the company’s cloud-based remote water monitoring system. She said there has been an increase in demand for flow assurance services for offshore operations as well, particularly for chemistries geared toward wax- and asphaltene-laden crudes in pipelines.
The 50,000-ft2 facility will open next year. It will house 80 to 90 scientists, engineers, and support staff from the parent company and the former GE Water and Process Technologies, which the company acquired earlier this year. George DeLong, SUEZ global analytical laboratory manager, said that additional support facilities were engineered in place in the design phase of the construction project, and the main facility’s modular design will allow for quick adaptation should the company need to further expand its workforce.
“In the design concept, it was really important for us to keep growth in mind, so when we worked with the architecture firm we made it so that if we did need to expand, [the laboratory] would still be very adaptable and allow us to do that expansion,” DeLong said.
GE Water and Process Technologies began searching for a new laboratory prior to its acquisition by SUEZ. The company currently operates out of a facility in The Woodlands, Texas. DeLong said that it had scouted locations in the Greenspoint area of north Houston and in the San Jacinto area southeast of Houston, but it selected the Tomball location because of its proximity to The Woodlands.
“We went through a search with real estate firms really trying to stay in the northern Houston area because, obviously, that’s where the center of gravity for most of our employees is,” he said.
SUEZ will continue working out of The Woodlands facility into next year as construction on the Tomball facility gets completed. DeLong said the company hopes to begin transitioning to the new laboratory by the end of July 2018, and that the transition process should take 4 to 6 weeks.
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