Ecosse ploughs a new furrow with 'Scar' seabed trials

THE cost of digging underwater trenches could be brought down by a new plough being built by an Aberdeen-based company.

Work has begun on building the "Scar" device, designed by Ecosse Subsea Systems, at Dales Engineering Services' yard in Peterhead.

Fabrication is expected to be completed early next year and Ecosse said sea trials would begin as soon as a suitable support vessel could be found.

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The firm has secured a grant of 30,000 from Scottish Enterprise to develop Scar, which is said to be lighter than conventional ploughs and so doesn't need an expensive crane or A-frame to be deployed. It can be used from a range of vessels, including anchor handlers.

Ecosse managing director Mike Wilson said: "Our engineering expertise lies in trenching and pipeline installation. However, this new piece of equipment allows us to become even more operations-based and we are delighted that fabrication work is taking place here in the North-east.

"Scar is one of many technologies we have waiting in the wings, including a partnership with Ellon-based chemicals company Aubin on DeepBuoy deepwater lifting. In this, Ecosse is the engineering and delivery partner for Aubin's subsea gel technologies, DeepBuoy and DeepGel."

The device is designed to dig trenches of up to 3.4 metres deep in water depths of up to 3,000m as well as levelling out uneven seabed terrain.

Ecosse, which has 15 staff, was set up in 1996 to provide subsea technology, engineering consultancy and specialist expert personnel for global oil and gas markets.

Dales Engineering Services operations director Kevin Thomson added: "We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to fabricate the plough and to have the opportunity to assist in the research and development of what is a very innovative product."