Aker to run £70m BP contract from base in Aberdeen

Picture: Colin Hattersley
Picture: Colin Hattersley
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OIL services group Aker Solutions has been awarded a £70 million contract to help redevelop two of Britain’s largest oil fields from its base in Aberdeen.

The Norwegian firm, which employs about 2,700 people in the North-east of Scotland, will manufacture and supply subsea equipment for BP’s huge projects at the Schiehallion and Loyal fields 100 miles west of Shetland.

Schiehallion and Loyal have yielded nearly 400 million barrels of oil since production started in 1998 and an estimated 450 million barrels are still available, although they are harder to reach.

BP and partners, including Hess, Shell and Statoil, are investing £3 billion to redevelop the fields and keep them producing until at least 2035.

Due to the water depth in the area, Schiehallion is entirely reliant on subsea production methods and is collected on a floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO).

Aker Solutions specialises in subsea technology which allows wells to be monitored and managed remotely through a complex series of hydraulic and electrical connections between the surface and the seabed.

The company, which is listed on the Oslo stock exchange, bought Scottish energy services firm Enovate Systems in January, adding to its capabilities in undersea oil well technology. Aker also expects to create 500 jobs in Scotland in the next two years.

Alan Brunnen, head of Aker’s subsea business, said: “West of Shetland is an exciting area and we are delighted to continue our successful relationship with BP by playing such a significant role in the continuing development of this project.

“Our subsea business continues to grow from strength to strength, enabling our clients to operate in deeper and harsher environments. Our subsea controls centre of excellence is based in Aberdeen, so it is fantastic to be able to service such a high profile project in its local market.”

Aker said equipment for the contract will be designed and built at the Aberdeen centre, with the first deliveries made by the middle of next year.

BP’s new facilities at Schiehallion and Loyal are expected to start production in 2016. The oil giant is also investing in a huge FPSO vessel, which will be 270 metres long and 52 metres wide. The ship will be able to process and export up to 130,000 barrels of oil a day, and store more than one million barrels.

News of the contract comes a day after a survey by trade body Oil & Gas UK found contractors were becoming increasingly confident on the outlook for the North Sea.

The group estimates that oil investment in Britain will reach a record £13bn this year, but the rising cost of operations means the oil firms themselves will see smaller returns than was previously the case.