MAJOR growth in marine renewables, decommissioning and the offshore oil and gas industry look set to create up to 30 top quality, full time engineering jobs with ambitious local firm Ocean Kinetics.
The company is grasping new opportunities with both hands as its 50 staff move into its brand new £3 million headquarters in Lerwick’s Port Business Park, which has just been completed.
The new 3,500 square metre building incorporates new engineering workshops, a machine shop, a profiling and forming workshop, a fabrication workshop, stores, a retail store as well as well as dedicated areas for welding exotics, engineering and planning offices and a dedicated inspection area.
Designed by local architect Alan McKay and built over 12 months by local firm Hunter & Morrisons, the impressive new site has been fitted out to make the most of the latest developments in the offshore energy sector.
Managing director John Henderson spotted the way the market was heading and three years ago set to work making sure Shetland saw the full benefit.
Henderson, a former diver working offshore, founded the company in 1992 after being asked to fabricate some fish cages for salmon farming pioneer Gibbie Johnson.
After branching out, the company is now an acknowledged expert in marine repair and corrosion prevention, metal works and fabrication, welding, pipework and design.
With an office and workshop in Aberdeen, Ocean Kinetics’ expertise in underwater structural repairs and construction have won them lucrative contracts from harbour authorities throughout the UK including Aberdeen Harwich, Dover and the Scottish west coast.
Now the potential for future growth lies closer to home, Henderson says.
“The growth areas we are looking at are the renewables, decommissioning and of course the oil and gas industry.
“As new discoveries are made to the West of Shetland we find ourselves very much in the middle of the increasing demand for engineering services, Shetland is becoming a hub for the works taking place offshore, we also have decommissioning activities ramping up and we feel that Shetland will be a key player in this sector in the coming years.
“Marine renewables and wind power will also be an expanding industry; these key factors have given us the confidence to carry out the recent developments.”
“We’ve been expanding over the last year as the new building was going up and the plan is to double our turnover in the next five years, by which time we should be employing between 70 and 80 people.”
To convert these opportunities into real business, Ocean Kinetics had to improve their internal quality control systems to comply with a raft of accreditation schemes.
Henderson explains: “We have been working very hard improving our quality and management systems to meet the ever stricter requirements from the oil and gas industry, part of this has been employing more people with special skills and ongoing training of our existing staff, we now have people qualified in engineering design including stress analysis, welding inspectors, NDT engineers and draughts men skilled in operating 3D modeling software such as Solidworks.
“We have been accredited to ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 to BS OHSAS 18001:2007 for many years which are all absolutely necessary to do any work in the oil and gas industry.
“One more specialised accreditation specifically aimed at welding and fabrication, the ISO3834 part 2, is being implemented at the moment.”
“This is purely for welding and fabrication, but the larger oil and gas companies are now looking for that before they give you any work.”
The 47 year old praised local Highlands and Islands Enterprise staff, and in particular Mark Georgeson, who have provided valuable managerial and marketing advice, contributed £240,000 in grant funding, and helped access a further £500,000 through the Scottish government’s regional selective assistance (RSA) scheme.
HIE head of business growth Mark Georgeson was full of praise for the company’s confident outlook.
“Ocean Kinetics have a real ambition to grow the company and create fantastic employment opportunities in Shetland.
“They are flexible and innovative in their approach to providing engineering services to a wide range of customers across the UK with a focus on quality.
“The company have an excellent reputation in the industry and HIE's role is to continue to work with them to deliver that ambition for the benefit of Shetland.
“Investment in the North Sea is forecast to increase significantly in the next 10 to 20 years and HIE are determined to work with the industry to ensure as much of that flows into the Shetland economy.”
Henderson adds: “We also want to develop the store and shop; we think we can stock a lot more materials for selling not only to other companies but also to the general public. We are trying not to do anything other people already doing. It will be more pipe and fittings, steel, stainless and aluminium sheet and section as well as the usual nuts and bolts, hoses and general marine products.
Architect Alan McKay explains that the design brief was to come up with a building that suited the accommodation needs of a busy marine engineering firm and to break down the visual scale of the large building.
“By stepping the roofs of the building elements up like a series of wings, this allowed the vast bulk of the main workshops to be disguised and brought down to human scale.
“Use of colour on the cladding also helps to further break down scale and create visual interest. The different shades of blue accented by white trims and windows were chosen to evoke the moods of the sea inspired by the name Ocean Kinetics.
“Much effort has been made to make the building as energy efficient as possible. All the cladding is insulated with air-leakage minimized through careful detailing. Space heating is provided throughout by hot-water under-floor heating served by a bio-mass boiler burning locally produced wood pellets.
“To soften the approach to the building, a green area is provided outside the office area with extensive planting of native species planned for later in the year.”
Meanwhile, local engineering firm DH Marine has moved into Ocean Kinetics old premises at the Lerwick Marina Business Park, and has equally ambitious plans to expand its business.