Jobs boost on back of tech investment

Verum's Paul Milligan with the firm's accountant, Yoanna Milligan. Picture: Abermedia
Verum's Paul Milligan with the firm's accountant, Yoanna Milligan. Picture: Abermedia
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A Scottish entrepreneur has invested £250,000 in a new cloud-based technology product aimed at helping the oil and gas industry better control costs and quality on projects.

Verum Solutions, led by Stirling-born Paul Milligan and which has offices in Glasgow and Monaco, expects to create up to five new jobs in Aberdeen on the back of the development and is also looking at opening a dedicated office in the city to support the rollout of the product.

The “Qvis” product aims to manage quality control and provide better visibility during the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) phase of large oil and gas development projects.

The technology gathers and presents project data on a traffic light system of quality control indicators during the construction stage, enabling firms to prevent cost and schedule overruns.

Milligan has more than 30 years’ experience of working in quality assurance and control in the oil and gas industry globally and said the inspiration behind Qvis came from experience gained throughout his career.

“Management practices for other aspects of project management, particularly health & safety, have evolved greatly and been very successful in driving incident rates down. Meanwhile, the overriding strategy to manage the quality control on projects has remained static,” he said.

“Through witnessing the same quality issues on almost every project associated with the delivery of equipment packages and, during construction and commissioning, it was clear that there must be a better way,” he said.

The Qvis technology was recently successfully deployed on a large floating production storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) installed in the North Sea. Verum said safety and production systems were quickly commissioned onshore and the unit achieved first oil within what is believed to be record time and no quality issues have arisen.

Milligan said the technology is suited to any oil and gas capital project onshore or offshore, “irrespective of size, location or complexity”.

In March, industry body Oil & Gas UK’s annual outlook report stressed the important role which innovation and technology development will play in helping the North Sea reduce costs to be able to compete in a lower oil price environment.

It highlighted developments such as the Oil & Gas Technology Centre which was established in Aberdeen in 2016 with £180 million of funding to support new projects that have the potential to enhance all areas of the industry.

In its first year, the centre co-invested £37m in industry-led projects.

Last month, the centre announced backing for four subsea “plug and play” projects which could help unlock the 3.4 billion barrels of oil and gas in marginal fields on the UK Continental Shelf.

The plug-and-play concept, which is used regularly in the computing and space industries, sees equipment designed to be connected, operated and reused more simply and efficiently.

Adopting this concept in oil and gas could significantly reduce the cost of developing marginal fields – known in the industry as small pools.