Jim McColl wades into North Sea after buying US oil services outfit

Engineering tycoon Jim McColl will mark his return to the North Sea’s oil and gas industry today when he unveils the takeover of an American energy services firm along with his ambitious expansion plans.

McColl’s Clyde Blowers Capital is snapping up Houston-based Energy Services International (ESI) for $20 million (£13m) and wants to grow its turnover five-fold to £65m within the next five years.

He will open a service centre for ESI in Aberdeen so that the company can access the North Sea market and he is targeting further expansion in Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia.

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McColl told The Scotsman: “My last job as a company doctor before I bought Clyde Blowers was with Hunting Oilfield Services, so I was working in Aberdeen in the early 1990s.

“Hunting is now a very successful company listed on the London stock market and the core of that was the business we had in Aberdeen.

“I hope to repeat that success with ESI. It’s a company that’s focused solely on the Gulf of Mexico but its skills and business is applicable to all areas where you have oil fields.”

ESI makes and repairs equipment for “jack-up” rigs, which are mobile platforms that are already used for drilling exploration wells and are starting to be used to service turbines in offshore wind farms.

McColl said: “A lot of the companies I’ve bought in recent years have applications in the renewable energy sector.”

David Brown Gear Systems, another of his businesses, is supporting Edinburgh University spin out NGenTec, which is developing generators for wind turbines.

McColl added that he has made an offer to buy another industrial outfit and is mulling bids for a further two businesses.

News of the ESI deal comes just a month after Clyde Blowers Capital bought historic Rosyth-based electrical equipment maker Parsons Peebles Generation for an undisclosed sum.

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McColl said he is opening a Parsons office in Aberdeen and plans to create “dozens” of jobs. Parsons and ESI could share a base in the Granite City.

Jim McColl will speak at The Scotsman’s Economics of Independence conference in Edinburgh on 4 June. Details at www.scotsmanconferences.com