Azure snaps up North Sea expertise

An engineering business in Aberdeen has become the latest player in Scotland’s oil and gas sector to be swallowed up by a private equity firm.

Screw Conveyor, which makes equipment for ­moving waste materials away from drilling sites, was sold by Energy Environmental Group (EEG) to Azure Investments for £5 million.

Azure chairman John Stodart now plans to expand Screw Conveyor from its presence in the North Sea to markets in the Far East, the Middle East and Russia.

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“We have very good relationships with the rig operators in Russia and a strong presence in Kurdistan and Iraq, as well as Saudi Arabia and Dubai,” Stodart said. “Our plan to have fabrication plants in Dubai and Singapore will help consolidate our success,” he added.

“We have very ambitious growth targets for the business, which we are confident we can achieve given the strength of the order book and the opportunities in overseas markets.”

Graeme Henry, a partner at law firm HBJ Gateley, which advised on the deal, said: “Azure is a very ambitious, acquisitive private equity firm that spotted the growth potential of Screw Conveyor and put together a very good deal in what is still a very tough market.”

EEG’s remaining businesses are Rotawave, which develops systems for handling drilling mud and other environmental waste, and Vikoma International, which makes equipment for containing oil spills.

Screw Conveyor is the latest in a series of North-east businesses to be bought by private equity firms. Last week, US-based Oaktree Capital Management bought Lloyds Banking Group’s stake in Integrated Subsea Services.

Earlier this month, London-based Riverstone Holdings – where former BP chief executive Lord Browne is a partner – bought a £97m stake in oil driller Fairfield Energy.