Offshore all-rounders

30 November 2011

Aberdeen based EnerMech is making waves in the offshore sector, providing a range of cranes, lifting, rigging and hoist services to oil and gas exploration and production companies working in the North Sea, Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East and Australia. Cristina Brooks reports

Formed only three years ago, EnerMech’s cranes and lifting division can trace its roots back more than 30 years through its acquisition of Specialist Maintenance Services (SMS) and A1 Safety Training Consultants.

Other acquisitions of Norson Power in the UK Pavitt Energy and Scotia Oilfield Trading in the Middle East and Bjorge ASA’s crane division in Norway added to the EnerMech portfolio.

A £24m funding package from Lloyds Banking Group and private equity funding by Lime Rock Partners and shareholders has provided a total of £40m to support growth and further acquisitions.

Being a large and diverse group allows EnerMech to offer, not just long term, but all clients a combination of integrated offshore services uncommon in the industry, it says.

Its in-house training division provides crane operator training, while its lifting and rigging section supplies air operated hoists and winches.

The company’s hydraulics division, and its tools and equipment division, are also used in a wide range of crane contracts.

John Morrison, cranes and lifting director at EnerMech, says its integrated approach to crane services give it an edge on other service companies.

“We benefit from a group infrastructure which can offer integrated services, and this means we don’t have to look to third parties to perform this work. This not only saves time, but keeps a tighter control over quality and is more cost efficient for the end-client.”

The majority of EnerMech’s offshore work is in the UK and Norwegian North Sea, but it is increasingly active abroad, it says.

Locations in key oil-and-gas-producing hubs allow the company to maintain a ‘boots on the ground’ approach, and it has established bases in Norway, the Caspian, the Middle East, Singapore and Australia.

Last year EnerMech invested over $8m (£5m) in upgrading its headquarters in Aberdeen, part of which included building new humidity controlled ‘rubb’ warehouses for storing client’s spare crane parts.

Morrison says EnerMech’s investment in innovative IT systems helped secure a number of important crane and lifting contracts.

He says: “We place a strong emphasis on IT systems which provide clarity and peace of mind for the client.

“One of those is our EnerMech Live online crane management system which enables clients to view critical documentation, from certificates through to inspection reports, thereby increasing visibility of the vessel’s cranes certification status and regulatory compliance.

“The system can be accessed anywhere in the world 24–7, which appeals to international operators working over different time zones.”

Recently EnerMech introduced a new approach to changing-out and refurbishing a crane on the Echo platform in Apache’s Forties Field, which involved deconstruction of the crane and a complete overhaul onshore, followed by reinstallation on the platform.

Morrison explained: “We decided to reinstall as much of the components as possible onshore so that pre-commissioning tests could be completed without the need to break the crane down again for shipment.

“The benefits to the client included reduced re-build and material handling time offshore, less platform lay-down area requirement and platform crane support. The reinstallation was completed with zero incidents or health and safety issues and it highlighted our ability to explore new methods of delivery.”

Outside of the firm’s work in the North Sea, EnerMech is working on an £8m three year contract for BP Exploration in Azerbaijan.

“The workscope covers 12 BP offshore pedestal cranes operating in Chirag, Central, West and East Azeri developments, Shah Deniz gas field, and in the Gunashli deepwater project,” says EnerMech.

The contract required personnel for offshore crane operations in Baku, and also the provision of lifting equipment, spare parts, repair and refurbishment services.

Doug Duguid, managing director at EnerMech, says the BP contract was an important win for EnerMech.

“This award underlined our international credentials for being able to undertake wide ranging crane maintenance and training workscopes,” said Duguid.

“A differentiator was our willingness to commit to training and employing Azeri nationals during the entirety of the contract, and that process has been very successful.”

As EnerMech looks to expand its international business it faces ongoing skills shortages. The company is taking steps to introduce new blood and to secure experienced crane operators.

It has recently opened a base in Bristol, where it hopes to attract staff with experience of working in the historic dockyards and related heavy industries.

“We are happy to go outwith our traditional oil and gas sectors if we can attract people with the right skills or the ability and aptitude to be retrained,” says Duguid, “and establishing a presence in Bristol and other key areas is part of that strategy.”

Duguid says that the new location is a response to greater demand.

“The next three years are going to be a very busy time for EnerMech as we ramp up our activities, and we are focused on establishing our business as the leading provider of cranes and lifting services across the world.”

EnerMech’s cranes division is working on projects for some of the world’s major oil and gas operators, including Apache, TOTAL, ExxonMobil and Marathon Oil. Enermech also says that it is on the verge of announcing another multi-million pound contract for the supply and installation of specialist cranes to a North Sea operator.

This will follow a recently announced $4.8m (£3m) contract with Maersk Oil for inspection, maintenance and engineering support services covering three of Maersk’s Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessels (FPSOs), the ‘Janice’, ‘Gryphon’ and ‘Global Producer III’.