Carelian Caviar started operating in Varkaus, Finland, in 2006, as the only caviar producer in Scandinavia and the world’s most northerly producer of this so-called “black gold”. Growing sturgeon to produce caviar is a long, laborious process – due to the fact that the fish do not start producing caviar until they reach full maturity at around age five to seven – and the first batch of caviar could therefore be harvested in 2011.
Caviar is one of the most expensive foods there is. Each sturgeon produces around one to two kilograms of caviar, which is priced at between EUR 700 and EUR 2,000 per kilo on the consumer market, depending on the quality.
Carelian Caviar occupies an 8,000-square-metre aquaculture facility, consisting of around 50 large tanks, in which conditions are carefully controlled using a range of state-of-the-art tools. There are a total of 170 measuring points across all the tanks that provide essential information on the water conditions, including temperature, pH, nitrate, nitrite, and oxygen.
While all these parameters are crucial in their own way, the most critical factor for keeping the fish alive is the liquid oxygen, which has been delivered to Carelian Caviar by AGA since almost day one of its operations.
“Oxygen is the lifeblood of our system, without it our production is impossible,” says Carelian Caviar’s Production Manager, Jani Rantula, who explains that, as the water is re-circulated through the 50 different tanks, oxygen needs to be added constantly.
“The oxygen level is crucial because, if it becomes to low or, indeed, too high, it could have a harmful impact on the growth of the fish,” he adds.
At Carelian Caviar, the level of oxygen gas in the reservoir is constantly monitored using AGA’s ACCURA gas management tracking service. Meanwhile, AGA’s SECCURA automatic gas supply service ensures the uninterrupted supply of the crucial oxygen gas. When Carelian Caviar’s facility was recently expanded, AGA was also put in charge of planning and assembling the new oxygen pipelines.
“We chose AGA as our supplier because we knew it was a reliable partner that could be trusted to make deliveries at the right time and in the right place. Another important factor is the high quality of the oxygen,” says Rantula.
“Considering the value of the end product and the amount of time required to raise the fish, a break in the supply of the oxygen that keeps them alive would spell financial disaster for any fish farm – and especially for a caviar producer,” explains AGA’s Key Account Manager Peter Himmelroos. “This is why the reliability of our service is so crucial.”
The Carelian Caviar fish farm is based on a so-called Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS), which means that the same water is constantly re-circulated and cleaned with filters.
“Our RAS system is built to ensure that, even if all our technology were to malfunction, we’d still be able to get oxygen to the fish tanks even without electricity. It gives us added peace of mind to know that AGA’s liquid oxygen system would be able to keep our fish alive in the event of an emergency,” concludes Jani Rantula.
AGA opened its aquaculture R&D facility, Innovation Centre for Aquaculture and Water Treatment, in Ålesund, Norway in September 2012. With its unique technology, solutions, innovative concepts and knowledge, AGA is a leading supplier to the growing global fish farming market. AGA is also the only gas company able to offer the kind of cutting-edge expertise that has enabled it to establish itself as the technology leader in this field.