Oil industry boost as UIS targets $300m of deals

A SUBSEA services venture with an acquisition warchest of as much as $300 million (£198m) is launching with ­operations on both sides of the Atlantic.

Geoff Fisher (chief technology officer) and Neill Kelly (chief commerical officer) form the Aberdeenbased top team for UIS
Geoff Fisher (chief technology officer) and Neill Kelly (chief commerical officer) form the Aberdeenbased top team for UIS

Underwater Integrity Solutions (UIS), which will have its Scottish base in Aberdeen, has been established by five subsea industry leaders with more than 140 years of global ­experience between them.

They plan to acquire businesses and form “strategic partnerships” to build a company that will focus on maximising oil companies’ returns on their subsea assets by trimming costs and increasing productivity.

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HitecVision, the European oil and gas investor, has committed $150m of equity to finance the growth of the company. That equity will be used to leverage debt funding from banks in a move that could potentially double the amount available for acquisitions.

UIS chief executive Bill Boyle said the venture was launching at a time when the trend for ­operations in deeper water and in more hostile environments was continuing.

“There are about 5,000 operational subsea wells around the world with almost 7,000 predicted by 2020,” he noted.

“Subsea global annual operating expenditure is currently around $10 billion and expected to grow strongly over the course of the next few years.

“Today, there is a need to significantly reduce subsea operating costs and increase efficiency and hence value from subsea fields. Against that background, the UIS vision is to become a leading provider of independent underwater integrity and production assurance solutions.

“Our independence, global presence and sole focus on ­subsea integrity and assurance will be our competitive edge, differentiating UIS from what is currently being offered in the marketplace.”

Boyle will be based in Houston, Texas, where the business was launched yesterday at an offshore technology conference. He is joined there by chief ­financial officer Mark Webster and chief operating officer Guido Bressani.

Chief commercial officer Neill Kelly and chief technology ­officer Geoff Fisher will operate out of Aberdeen.

Rolf Magne Larsen, who recently retired from Statoil, is chairman of the board of UIS, which also includes Quinn Fanning, chief financial officer of Tidewater, Lasse Andresen of ForgeRock and Tor Espedal, senior partner of HitecVision.

The news will be a shot in the arm for an industry that has ­suffered a number of blows in the wake of the oil price slide, including the loss of hundreds of jobs in the North Sea.

However, oil recovered further yesterday. touching a 2015 high around $67 a barrel, ­supported by expectations the current supply glut will ease.