Security for oil workers

Norwegian company has developed a wireless gas detector for the energy industry

Photo courtesy of GasSecure GasSecure’s wireless gas detector protects workers from gas leaks all over the world.

Photo courtesy of GasSecure
GasSecure’s wireless gas detector protects workers from gas leaks all over the world.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

GasSecure was founded in 2008 based on ideas from SINTEF, the research organization where the two founders had worked. Last year it was sold for NOK 500 million. The company has developed a wireless gas detector. It works just like the smoke detector you use at home and is used where they handle oil products, such as on oil rigs, refineries, and terminals. It’s very electricity efficient and uses batteries.

The company was set up in 2008 by Knut Sandven and Scandinavia’s largest independent research organization SINTEF, based on their core technology, with R&D director Haakon Sagberg joining the company in 2009. His research resulted in the development of an optical sensor with very low energy consumption. That was an ideal starting point for developing the wireless, battery-driven gas detector. The product consists of a gateway, several detectors, a sender, and a receiver. It is Safety Automation Equipment List (SAEL) certified.

During the financial crisis, finding funding was not easy. GasSecure got help from the Research Council’s FORNY program, which helps commercialize R&D results, and was also forced to look for industrial partners such as Statoil, ConocoPhillips, and ABB. In 2009 they succeeded in getting seed funding. Since 2010 they have been financially supported by Viking Venture, Investinor, ProVenture Seed, and SINTEF.

Today the company develops and sells the world’s first wireless optical glass detector for demanding industrial applications. The detector is based on innovative ultra-low power optical filter technology and has introduced a new level of reliability and flexibility for the detection of gas leakages. The product offers extended detection coverage, exceptional safety, and cost performance to operators. This has become more important with the current cost focus in the oil sector. GasSecure’s products and technology have been successfully field tested in the harshest offshore environments and climates from Alaska to the North Sea to Australia. The product can be used from minus 40 to plus 65 degrees Celsius, and with high humidity, smog, and dirt.

In GasSecure’s first two years they sold 400 units all over the world. This meant more support for the customers and less time for development. They started to look for an industrial partner with a worldwide network for sales and service so that they could spend time on what they like, namely developing. GasSecure decided to sell to the German industrial Dräger. According to the old owners, the company is an ideal buyer. They have the capability and distribution power to scale the unique and promising products of the startup with their world-wide distribution network. The buyer also understands how to develop an innovative company further. Dränger will continue to keep GasSecure with 11 employees as a separate company under the leadership of founder and CEO, Knut Sandven. Since then, there has been no letup in the international oil and gas market’s interest in the wireless gas detector.

This article originally appeared in the March 25, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.