Precision water jet cutting provides fast and safe access to Gasometers

The Challenge

As part of a decommissioning programme at Provan Gas Works, RGL’s customer was tasked with the demolition of the spiral-guided gasometer.

 Over 60 metres in diameter and once home to 144,000 m3 of gas, these steel structures have been an industrial landmark in Glasgow’s East End for over a century.

Before conventional demolition can begin, access holes need to be cut into the gas holder. These structures have multi-layer side sheets reinforced with thick section spiral guides. Due to the flammable nature of sludge contained within the tank cutting must be completed without creating heat or sparks.

RGL’s task was to cut 2 apertures through all 5 existing gas holder skins to create a safe  means of access in a hazardous environment.

The larger 5m x 4m opening allows machinery access while another 2m x 2m secondary opening provides a safe means of access/exit for the operatives.

The Solution

Water jet cutting proved an ideal solution to this complicated challenge. Using UHP water jetting ensures our process poses no risk of combustion in this hazardous environment.

RGL’s  experience enabled the in-house engineering team to design and build a custom rig. Once in place the bespoke cutting system offered major advantages over more conventional methods.


Benefits process were:

  • The use of two cutting nozzles at the same time considerably reduced the time taken to cut each opening.


  • As the equipment had been specially designed for this task, once set up each cut could be made precisely and without any further intervention or adjustments . Further reducing the set-up and cutting time.


  • The precision abrasive water jet system was able to accurately cut thorough the 5-layer side sheets, which were up to 35mm in thickness.


  • Using RGL’s semi-automatic UHP ‘Jetnife’ system, kept operators at a safe distance, from the hazards associated water jetting.
  • It maintained a safe environment, for all other contractors on-site to continue working, and bought considerable efficiency to the process.

Once the cuts had been made the panels safely safely removed.

RGL cut both openings on time and to budget– enabling DSM’s conventional demolition crews to begin work safely.