Oceaneering invests £15m in renewables at Rosyth

AMERICAN industrial giant Oceaneering will use its base at Rosyth to push into the offshore renewable energy market after unveiling a $23.5 million (£15.2m) investment in the facility.

The firm already makes umbilical cord for the oil and gas industry at the Fife plant but, once larger storage facilities are constructed, it will also be able to hold cables for offshore wind farms or wave and tidal power devices.

Mike Smith, general manager of the facility, said the investment is the largest since Oceaneering relocated to Rosyth from Leith 13 years ago to make way for the Ocean Terminal shopping centre.

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Cables made at the site are typically 15 to 20 kilometres long and are used to connect oil rigs to wells on the seabed.

The largest umbilical cord produced at the plant – 66 kilometres long – was recently completed and shipped to Australia for use on an offshore rig.

New York-listed Oceaneering has similar manufacturing facilities in Brazil and Florida but Smith – who ran the Florida operations for two years before moving to Scotland – said the Fife base mainly services clients in the North Sea, the Mediterranean, western Africa and south-east Asia.

Smith said: “The North Sea is going through a mini-boom at the moment, both in the British and Norwegian sectors. New technology has allowed companies to extend the lives of existing fields and also reach deeper wells at higher pressures and temperatures.

“We had to lay people off during the global financial crisis but we made a conscious effort to hang on to as many people as we could because we knew the market would take an up turn again and it has. We didn’t think it would come back so quickly and with so much force though.”

The company has created 60 jobs in Fife over the past year to take its headcount to 320. Smith expects further jobs will be added thanks to the expansion but said they would come over time as the company ramps up production.

Rosyth is also home to Oceaneering’s main umbilical research team, which is using new materials to double the life of its cords from 20 years to 40 years.

Lena Wilson, chief executive at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Oceaneering is an ambitious company that is going from strength to strength in Scotland’s growing energy engineering sector.

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“The company’s decision to further invest and expand in Scotland is testament to our world-renowned oil and gas industry.”