Banchory company’s diversity pays off

Ecosse Subsea Systems seabed preparation system at work offshore.
Ecosse Subsea Systems seabed preparation system at work offshore.

A subsea engineering firm in Banchory is reaping the rewards of switching its focus from oil and gas to renewables.

Ecosse Subsea Systems (ESS) is set to double its turnover in the current financial year and increase its workforce by more than a third.

Mike Wilson, Ecosse Subsea Systems managing director

Mike Wilson, Ecosse Subsea Systems managing director

Company bosses are predicting a bright future after diversifying into offshore renewables and interconnector projects.

ESS, whose head office is at Hill of Brathens, Glassel, forecasts turnover in the current financial year will double to between £23-£25 million, with profits jumping to around £5 million and staff numbers growing from 35 to 50.

Latest accounts for the year to March 31, 2016, lodged at Company House, show a turnover of £12 million compared to £17.6 million the previous year, while profits were £704,000 compared to £1.3 million.

The “early adopter” company confirmed it was responding to fresh opportunities to deploy its innovative technologies in emerging markets in the Baltic Sea, the Far East and USA.

Managing director Mike Wilson said: “Our traditional revenue streams have been replaced after successful diversification into offshore renewables and interconnector projects, and the company has strong growth opportunities in these areas.

“The rates of very fast turnover growth and profits seen in previous years are likely to be sustained, the last year of consolidation and continued investment in research and development in our new technology products have paid off, and we have had great success building the order book of contracted work.”

In the current financial year, ESS has executed a £5 million project on the Race Bank Offshore Wind Farm on behalf of DONG Energy, and extended a trenching scope on an earlier project on behalf of Prysmian Group on Iberdrola’s Wikinger offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea.

An international infrastructure group also commissioned the company to design and build a £3 million, 1500-ton carousel and associated spread to be used in the storage of spare cables required for UK offshore windfarms, while other technologies including a backfill plough have been contracted for a major interconnector contract.

ESS has been supported by Scottish Enterprise and part-funded by the European Structural and Investment Funds Programme to develop SCARJet, a water jetting tool which has the potential to double trench production rates in seabed trenching operations.

Last month it rounded off a successful year when it was received the Engineering Excellence Award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards for its SCAR Seabed System, which can be used in seabed clearance and route preparation for the renewables, interconnector and oil and gas sector.

Mr Wilson added: “The next year and beyond looks very promising in renewables, the interconnector market and in oil and gas, where there are some green shoots starting to appear.

“The technologies which we have developed for use in the renewables sector are equally applicable for oil and gas projects, and we will be working hard to build on our long-established reputation for innovation and flexibility in traditional hydrocarbons.”