‘Surf City’ signs up to growing demand

PIctured is Sir Robert Smith MP, Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, and Provost of Aberdeenshire Jill Webster at the unveiling of the road sign highlighting Westhill as the premier subsea destination in the world.
PIctured is Sir Robert Smith MP, Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, and Provost of Aberdeenshire Jill Webster at the unveiling of the road sign highlighting Westhill as the premier subsea destination in the world.

New signs have been unveiled proclaiming Westhill’s status as a global centre of subsea excellence.

Sir Robert Smith MP and Provost of Aberdeenshire Jill Webster joined Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, to launch Westhill as the ‘premier subsea destination in the world’.

Known to many affectionately in the industry as ‘Surf City’, Westhill is now being formally recognised as the hub of the region’s global subsea operations.

SURF is an industry term to describe the main components of the industry: subsea umbilicals, risers and flowlines, all of which form a major part of the work undertaken at Westhill.

Confirming the Aberdeenshire town’s subsea status, Mr Gordon said: “Aberdeen City and Shire is home to almost 40% of the UK’s subsea industry which generates £6billion per annum and supports 50,000 jobs.

“There are around 290 subsea companies in Aberdeen City and Shire, and the companies located in Westhill, account for some 6,000 employees.”

Subsea UK has also announced its intention of relocating its headquarters to Westhill.

The body, which represents the industry around the UK with over 250 members, is investing in new headquarters at Arnhall Business Park, Westhill, where the team expect to be in their new offices in June this year.

“The North Sea has long been established as the seat of subsea learning and the test-bed for R&D,” added Mr Gordon.

“The transfer of technology, skills and know-how from this province to others around the world is in increasing demand. The UK subsea sector already accounts for around one third of the global market and is anticipated to grow to £7.5billion by 2013.”

Sir Robert Smith MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, said: “Thousands of local jobs are supported by this world centre of excellence here in the North east. I welcome these signs as a reminder of just what has been achieved over the decades by highly skilled talent developed in the challenging North Sea environment. The growing export potential of this industry can support many jobs here in the years to come.”

Provost of Aberdeenshire Council, Cllr Jill Webster, said: “These road signs recognise the significance of the region’s subsea industry; a large part of which is based here in Westhill.

“We have major players like Technip and Subsea 7 alongside smaller, home-grown, entrepreneurial engineering and technology firms like Tritech International, Forum Subsea Technologies and NCS Survey.

“There is a real critical mass of subsea excellence here at Westhill which the Council is keen to promote and build on.

“Aberdeenshire offers a high quality of life and increasingly, businesses are identifying the opportunities for both them and their employees to locate in one of our many attractive locations.”

There is strong demand and interest for developing a further 15 hectares of employment land in Westhill, which is driving demand for housing as people are attracted to the benefits of living and working in close proximity.

The UK subsea industry grew by 40% between 2007 and 2010.Extracting the remaining world’s hydrocarbon resources will increasingly fall to the subsea industry – already almost 45% of UKCS production comes from subsea wells with 70% coming from the new developments planned. Over 50% of the UK’s subsea output is attributable to exports.

Subsea UK is a self-sustaining body that champions the industry. It represents over 250 members and acts as a focal point for all stakeholders to promote the sector and maximise its opportunities at home and abroad. It provides a national forum for collaboration, diversification and technology development.