International Moisture Analysers set to Expand with Help from Funding Escalator

International Moisture Analysers Limited (IMA)

A growing business which has been supplying analysis tools to global oil and gas giants such as Shell, BP and ExxonMobil for over 20 years, has developed industry changing equipment that is forecast to see the company expand to over four times its current size in the next two years.

IMA, which has its research and development base in Bramley, near Basingstoke in Hampshire, has developed a way to produce a live video stream from inside gas pipelines.

This Process Vision equipment has been created in response to a direct request from National Grid to develop a system to identify and analyse contamination in gas supplies entering the National Transmission System (NTS).

IMA Managing Director, Paul Stockwell, explains: “When natural gas is extracted from the earth it is wet and contains other, potentially dangerous, gases. Before entering the NTS the gas goes through dehydration and desulphurisation processes to make sure it’s of a high enough quality and ultimately, that it’s safe. But sometimes liquids are carried over with the gas supplies when it comes into the NTS.”

The clean-up costs related to such contamination currently stand at around £1million each year for National Grid. IMA’s system will allow the gas to be viewed and analysed at the location where it enters the NTS pipelines, which has previously not been sufficiently safe to execute.

This process brings with it significant advantages to the pipeline operator: if levels are dangerous the flow can be reduced, or in worst cases the supply stopped completely, helping to avoid damage to compressor stations further down-stream; if levels do not pose a threat to safety but do affect the quality of the gas, National Grid are in a position to renegotiate price. Significantly, in either case it will be possible to pinpoint the supplier responsible.

For supply companies, the system can be used to analyse gas and observe pipeline activity within oil and gas fields to avoid costly events such as one which recently affected the Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan. Here, sulphuric acid was responsible for pipeline fractures, resulting in a bill of over $50bn and rising, as well as a halt in production for at least two years. Much of this may have been avoided had engineers been able to see the activity inside the pipeline and identify problems sooner.

IMA has reached a point where external funding is needed to complete the product development and scale-up operations ready for full manufacture. To this end the company has secured £200,000 from the Enterprise M3 Expansion Loan Scheme along with a further £200,000 from the South East Sustainability Loan Fund.

James Edwards, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group, which manages both funds says: “IMA has developed this system in response to a clear gap in the market. They have worked with the industry to ensure the end products will deliver exactly what is needed, using their decades of knowledge and expertise to achieve this. We are delighted to support them through this final stage of product development and into manufacture, enabling the creation of over 20 new jobs along the way.”

The Enterprise M3 Expansion Loan Scheme is part of the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator, a £5.5m initiative funded by Enterprise M3 LEP. The escalator, which also includes a growth equity fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £200,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities.

For more information about the Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/enterprise-m3-funding-escalator or contact James Edwards at james.edwards@thefsegroup.com tel: 01276 608531.