SeaEnergy shares suspended as cash woes turn critical

The fallout from the oil price slump took its toll on another Scottish company yesterday when SeaEnergy's shares were suspended as it comes close to running out of cash.

Oil tycoon Steve Remp is the largest shareholder in SeaEnergy. Picture: Contributed

The Aberdeenshire-based offshore services firm, which was born out of oil tycoon Steve Remp’s Ramco business, is now in talks with insolvency experts over its financial position.

SeaEnergy, which employs around 50 people, only has sufficient funds to remain trading until the second half of May. Although it is in talks over a possible disposal which would provide a financial lifeline, the group said it is unlikely to be able to get shareholder approval for any sale within that timescale.

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SeaEnergy shares slump on funding concerns

The company has also been hit by the suspension earlier this month of shares in Lansdowne Oil & Gas, in which it has an 18 per cent holding but where it is now difficult for the company to raise any funds through the disposal of its interest.

In a stock market statement yesterday, SeaEnergy said it had been in detailed discussions with a number of potential purchasers of its Return to Scene software business, which helps oil and gas firms plan maintenance activities on offshore installations.

But a disposal would require shareholder approval and given the time constraints it now faces, the company requested a suspension in trading of its shares “pending clarification of the financial position”.

Remp, who founded North Sea focused Ramco over 35 years ago, left SeaEnergy in 2012 but has hung on to 4.2 million of its shares, which represents a stake of around 7.5 per cent and makes him its largest shareholder.

The stake had been worth almost £3 million at its peak but when shares were suspended yesterday it had fallen to around £100,000. Remp recently said he was “deeply saddened” by the plight of the company, which is now led by chief executive John Aldersey-Williams.

SeaEnergy, which provides technical services and advice to the oil and gas, renewable and nuclear energy sectors, said the downturn in the energy sector has seen many projects cancelled by customers. It said trading conditions have “deteriorated further” since the start of the year, with more contracts pushed back.

Shares hit a high point of 69.5p in June 2011 but have since crashed to just 2.38p when they were suspended yesterday, valuing the company at £1.4m. Ramco rebranded as SeaEnergy in 2009 and for a period moved away from its traditional oil and gas focus into the renewable energy sector before then becoming a broader energy services firm.

SeaEnergy is the latest North East firm to hit financial difficulties blamed on the sharp decline in crude prices.

Explorer First Oil Expro, part of oil tycoon Ian Suttie’s First Oil Group, called in administrators from KPMG in February in the wake of sharp declines for crude prices. The Aberdeen-based business had been put up for sale at the end of last year.