Oil and gas confidence rises from historic lows

Improvements in oil and gas contractor confidence both in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) and internationally suggests some businesses are seeing signs of recovery and are focused on the future, according to an industry report just released.

  • Notable rise in confidence from historic lows last year but improvement not universal
  • 42% of firms expect to be growing by January 2018
  • More than half believe the industry has already reached the bottom

2017 07 10 084059The findings of the 26th Oil and Gas survey, conducted by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Fraser of Allander Institute, reveal that 38% of contractors surveyed are more confident about business on the UKCS compared to just 10% who are less confident.

This is a notable rise from historic lows six months ago when only 12% of contractors were more confident and 47% were less confident. However 52% report no change in their outlook, indicating that significant challenges still remain in the marketplace. It is too early to say a recovery is being universally felt.

More than half (52%) of contractors and operators / licensees believe that the sector has already reached the bottom of the current cycle and 26% consider it will do within the next year. When asked what position businesses expect to be in by January 1, 2018, 42% expect their business to be growing, up from 16% who expected to be growing by January 1, 2017, while only 2% anticipate further decline.

Contractors’ investment spend is moving in a positive direction with more contractors anticipating to increase investment over the next two years (26%) rather than reduce (19%). However, increases are limited to certain areas and again cannot be seen consistently across all parts of the industry.

James Bream, research and policy director at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re seeing some signs of recovery for the industry and the global outlook is certainly more positive than it was six months ago but it is clear that most companies are still suffering. We are hopefully stepping into a more prosperous period in due course but that is not upon us for now. It seems clear that many believe that we won’t return to previous levels of activity and that perhaps we shouldn’t call this a downturn. This isn’t a ‘new norm’, it is just normal.”

The survey found that excess capacity remains with 24% percent of contractors reporting working at, or above, optimum levels in the UKCS and 43% are working at or above their optimum levels overseas, up from record lows of 12% and 24% respectively six months ago.

While more contractors have reported working at or above optimum levels, there are still signs of more labour market challenges with operators and licensees reporting a 2.5% decline in their FTE workforce, and a 6% decline for contractors, in the 12 months to March 2017. Although operators and licensees continue to anticipate a decline over the next 12 months at a rate of 2%, contractors expect to increase their workforce by 0.8%.

With regards to sector-specific activity, the majority (81%) of contractors expect to be involved in decommissioning in the next three to five years; with just over half of respondents (54%) reporting similar interests in renewables.

Sixty-nine percent expect to be involved in unconventional oil and gas activity in the UK in the medium term, with 65% expecting to be involved outside the UK.


IMM targets £1m turnover after securing industry-leading consultant and accreditation

International Medical Management (IMM) has secured a significant volume of new business, appointed a leading medical advisor to the offshore industry and achieved accreditation from the Royal College of Physicians’ national occupational health body.

The Aberdeen-headquartered company aims to break through the £1million turnover barrier, and has already seen considerable growth in the provision of ad-hoc offshore medic cover in the energy sector in 2017.

2017 07 10 083733Dr. Oli Asatiani, occupational health doctor, Dr Graham Furnace, and travel health and screening specialist, John McKenzie, at IMM’s Aberdeen clinic.

Oil and Gas UK medical advisor Dr Graham Furnace joins IMM as consultant at its primary healthcare facility in Aberdeen, Scotland, as the company celebrates achieving accreditation under the Safe, Effective, Quality Occupational Health Service (SEQOHS) scheme.

Managed by the Royal College of Physicians of London on behalf of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, SEQOHS represents the highest standard of occupational healthcare available in the UK, and is a world-leading measure of quality in medical services.

IMM is also pioneering the use of cloud-based occupational health systems which allow clients to remotely access their data online from on- and offshore locations – even those with minimal bandwidth available, which remains a significant challenge for industry.

The system, which provides the highest level of security, is ISO 27001, SOC 2, ISO 9001 & ISO 14001 accreditation compliant.

Susan Reid, general manager of IMM, said: “Dr Graham Furnace is one of the most prominent and well-respected professionals in the energy sector. Securing his vast experience is a significant coup for our team, and gives our clients access to one of the most highly respected practitioners in the industry.

“We continue to invest in strengthening our medical team, and are recruiting additional doctors, nurses and administration staff to support new contracts in the region - our employee numbers are due to grow to more than 20 as the medical facility expands

“The volume of ad-hoc support needed in the North Sea has the potential to drive us beyond £1million based on the demand we’ve seen this year; and we aim to secure what would be a second successive doubling of our turnover, with the current figure around £800,000.

“Accreditation from SEQOHS is the most coveted standard for any occupational health care provider, and we are proud to have met their exacting requirements within a relatively short space of time, less than a year after applying.

“Cohort is a significant part of that success, and we are working closely with the platform’s developers as well as with our existing clients to expand its capabilities, allowing us to provide innovations for remote healthcare across the energy sector.”

IMM principally provides occupational health, travel and remote medical support services to operators and supply chain companies in oil and gas, and renewables, as well as the fishing industry. It also has a significant private patient client list.

IMM is delivering medical resourcing and topside support to the oil and gas, and renewables sectors through its partnership with CEGA.  IMM formed a strategic partnership with CEGA, a global provider of medical and security assistance in 2016, giving IMM’s client base access to specialised emergency and trauma medical support from CEGA’s 24-hour UK response centre.

The Aberdeen-headquartered provider was previously named the only Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad (MASTA)-accredited facility in the oil capital of Europe. MASTA, established 30 years ago, is the largest network of private travel clinics in the UK.


Red engineering puts new rubber pads to the test

FAST track testing services provided by RED Engineering have helped to confirm the viability of new rubber coated tensioner pads under development for the offshore energy sector.

2017 07 10 083308Testing expertise provided by RED Engineering has been integral to confirming the viability of new rubber coated tensioner pads for the offshore energy sectorThe North East-based firm of engineers completed the work for Metflex Precision Mouldings Ltd, which needed to validate the performance characteristics of its new EM range of natural rubbers.

The project has involved a small-scale test rig to complete a set of comparative friction coefficient tests of a 50mm x 50mm x 5mm sample against a polyurethane (PU) section already in use for tensioner track pads.

Initial results have been encouraging and used to validate the improved friction and wear characteristics of the rubber pads, revealing an average increase in friction coefficient value of 19% at high crush loads and 49% at low crush loads.

In the offshore sector, tensioners form a central part of most pipelay systems and are used on-board pipelay vessels to retain tension as the pipeline is being installed on the seabed. Any potential increase in friction properties allows operators to hold higher pipe and cable top tensions for the same crush force on a tensioner.

Metflex believes that its new products, which are part of a drive to expand its capabilities, will deliver a better performance than existing systems, and needed RED Engineering’s tensioner pad testing expertise to help to confirm this.

These new products, developed for back deck tensioner, SURF and submarine cable handling systems, complement Metflex’s existing subsea clamp inner liners, which have been independently verified to meet API 17L part 1 specification.

The next phase will see full scale testing but on the back of initial results Metflex has been able to provide a provisional top tension value to its first customers.

Ben Sculthorp, sales manager and responsible for business development at Metflex, said the project demonstrated RED Engineering’s experience in providing rapid testing solutions.

He added: “Using RED’s expertise and test facility, we have been able to validate very quickly the potential for our products, and confirm the improved performance benefits that it offers to our customers.”

Established in 2008, RED Engineering (formerly RED Marine) has rebranded in a move that reflects growing demand for its expertise beyond the offshore oil and gas marine sector. Services include consultancy, supply of bespoke equipment and qualification testing. More at


Pipetech set to diversify and grow with new leadership team

Pipetech, the independent pipe and process cleaning solutions specialist, has set out ambitious plans to expand its services to industrial markets and introduce subsea and wells to its offshore portfolio following recent contract wins and the appointment of a new leadership team.

Eric Doyle has been appointed managing director following management positions at several energy companies including most recently regional director at Aquaterra Energy. Alan Brunnen, former executive vice president at Aker Solutions has joined the company as non-executive director. Both bring a wealth of industry experience which they are applying as Pipetech enhances its technology and solutions targeting costly flow and blockage challenges at oil and gas assets and industrial power plants and refineries.

2017 07 10 082624

The Aberdeen headquartered company has developed a novel Deep Water Cleaning System which has been deployed in a £1.2 million campaign by a major operator to successfully clear a blockage in a subsea manifold in a Norwegian North Sea campaign and plans to further expand its subsea capabilities in the coming months. The team is also developing a new wells downhole cleaning tool.

Pipetech has also recently won industrial services contracts including process cleaning at a gas terminal in Scotland as well as the company’s first contract in Sweden for a major oil refinery. The organisation plans to continue its expansion into new international markets, particularly in Denmark, Sweden and Holland.

Eric Doyle, managing director of Pipetech said: “Pipetech has a new business strategy which will see us focus on solutions designed to tackle the inefficiencies faced both offshore and at industrial power plants and refineries by scale, flow and blockage problems. Alan’s advice and influence is going to be invaluable as we invest in expanding our subsea and wells offerings and continue to invest in new technologies to solve the challenges being faced by industry.”

Alan Brunnen retired from Aker Solutions last year after a career in oil and gas spanning more than three decades. He joined Aker Solutions in 2005 and was appointed executive vice president in 2011. He previously held various international managing director positions and was Chief Operating Officer at Stolt Offshore.

He said: “I see great potential for developing Pipetech’s solutions for the subsea industry and the first deployment of the Deep Water Cleaning System instils confidence in the performance of this new cleaning technology for subsea pipelines and manifolds. Wax build-up is a particular challenge and there is the potential for operators to move from regular chemical cleaning to a more effective solution that can be planned into maintenance schedules. I look forward to working closely with the team to maximise the opportunities around the subsea market.”

Pipetech launched in 2001 and has bases in Aberdeen, UK and Stavanger, Norway.

Pipetech is an independent pipe and process cleaning solutions specialist with operations in Aberdeen and Stavanger.

Founded in 2001, the company is focused on cleaning solutions to tackle flow and blockage problems to maximise efficiency and prevent downtime at oil and gas assets, industrial power plants and refineries.

Committed to finding the best technical solution based on a client’s specific requirements, Pipetech’s nimble team mobilises rapidly and delivers high quality results, adding value.

For further information visit


Aquaterra Sea Swift platform installed and operating in Egypt for PICO Petroleum Integrated Services

Aquaterra Energy, a leading global offshore engineering solutions provider, has designed, fabricated and installed a new Sea Swift platform for PICO Petroleum Integrated Services, the lead contractor for Amal Petroleum Company’s (AMAPETCO) Amal field in the Gulf of Suez, offshore Egypt. This will open new opportunities for future cooperation between the two entities in large projects both in Egypt and the Middle East.

The Sea Swift is a Conductor Supported Platform (CSP) and is installed in 23 metres water depth. It included a 385 tonne topside featuring a helideck and emergency accommodation with provision for six wells. The new topsides facility for the Amal-C platform involved designing process, piping, electrical, instrumentation, control system and technical safety scopes of work, the project also included the design of the new subsea production pipelines to the Amal-A platform. The project, which took 18 months from design to installation, involved building a bridge link to the neighbouring Amal-B platform and reconfiguring the topside pipework to create a new and improved production profile.

2017 07 10 075834The 385 tonne topside of the Aquaterra Sea Swift being installed. It features a helideck and emergency accommodation with provision for six wells

George Morrison, managing director of Aquaterra Energy said: “The Sea Swift platform is an ideal solution for shallow water field developments as it can be delivered from concept to completion quickly. This project will bring AMAPETCO significant cost and efficiency savings. Aquaterra also designed the new subsea production pipelines to the Amal-A platform. We are extremely proud to be working closely with PICO Petroleum Integrated Services, the independent Egyptian integrated services provider, to deliver this flagship project from design to delivery.”

The Sea Swift platform is a modular system that unites the advantages of a platform with the rig-run benefits of a subsea development. Several Sea Swifts are currently in operation globally in shallow water locations in Asia Pacific and West Africa. The field proven technology helps customers achieve reduced platform costs, lower installation and intervention costs, and simplified project management. It can also rapidly increase production from platforms constrained by existing slots enabling wells to be drilled, completed with dry trees and installed before the arrival of the main processing platform.

2017 07 10 075852The Sea Swift was installed in 23 metres water depth and from design to installation took 18 months to complete

“The deployment of CSPs is increasing due to growing demand for modularised wellhead platforms which can be built and installed in smaller, discreet packages across a number of fabrication yards,” added George Morrison. “The bespoke design also negates the need for diver or ROV involvement and any hot work which mitigates inherent risk and scheduling barriers, while cutting incremental costs. In addition, it can also potentially increase local content if this is an economic or political driver for the project.”

Shady Kabel, managing director of PICO Petroleum Integrated Services, added: “Aquaterra Energy has designed, fabricated and installed the Sea Swift platform in this shallow water field efficiently. The benefits of the CSP have contributed to invaluable project management expertise, which allows production from Amal-C to begin with confidence.”

Active for nearly 40 years in the Egyptian petroleum industry, PICO Petroleum Integrated Services (a member of the independent Egyptian PICO Energy Services Group) is a leading Integrated Services provider in Egypt, North America and Mexico. The PICO Energy Services Group delivers integrated technical solutions across the offshore and onshore oil and gas supply chain.

The Amal field is operated by AMAPETCO for its shareholders The Egyptian General Petroleum Company and Cheiron Amal Petroleum Corporation in Egypt's Gulf of Suez.

2017 07 10 075928Aquaterra Energy designs and delivers offshore engineering solutions for the global oil and gas industry.

The company has bases in Aberdeen, Cairo and Norwich, servicing customers in over 35 countries. Business streams include: riser systems; offshore structures and rental equipment.

From bespoke design and analysis to detailed engineering, procurement, fabrication and installation, Aquaterra Energy brings a fresh approach to industry challenges to support clients with quality, efficient solutions.