Harkand makes waves with £19m mini-submarine deal

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Harkand, a subsea services group backed by private equity firm Oaktree Capital and energy industry veteran Tom Ehret, is splashing out £19 million on mini-submarines as it dives into booming oil markets around the world.

The Aberdeen-based group, formed when Ehret brought together Andrews Survey, Integrated Subsea Services and Iremis with money from Oaktree, is buying a series of remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) and recruiting 30 staff as it positions itself to take advantage of projected growth in the inspection, repair and maintenance market.

It said the deal with Forum Subsea Technologies for various classes of submarine types will extend its ROV fleet by about a quarter to 29 vehicles.

The deal includes three Triton XLX 150HP workclass ROVs and one Comanche, with an option for a further two vehicles of a similar class.

The Triton is used for a wide variety of survey, construction and drilling support operations and can dive to 3,000 metres, while the smaller, electrically powered Comanche provides a cheaper option for some oil rig support tasks.

Two of the vehicles will be delivered to Aberdeen and used to bolster Harkand’s existing European based fleet of ROVs. The others will be used to support the international arm of the organisation for deployment on new projects in Australia, Singapore and West Africa. It will also see the company expand its offshore workforce with positions for up to 30 ROV technicians created. Of these, 15 will be based in Aberdeen and the remainder across the company’s operations in Asia Pacific.

Harkand chief executive Nicolas Mouté said: “This significant investment reflects our strong commitment to grow as a market-leading IRM [inspection, repair and maintenance] contractor worldwide and ensures we have the necessary people and equipment in place to meet the existing and planned requirements of the company.”

David Kerr, managing director of Harkand ISS, the division formed from Integrated Subsea Services, said the company was already experiencing a strong order book for the year ahead.

“Investing in reliable, powerful and high-performance assets that develop our global ROV capabilities allows us to continue delivering a premium service to our customers as they operate in some of the most challenging oil and gas provinces in the world,” he said.

The group was launched in February 2013 through the merger of the three component firms and employs some 750 people at bases in Aberdeen, Dubai, Perth in Australia and Singapore.

At a recent subsea services industry conference in Aberdeen, Ehret said he aims to grow turnover to $1 billion (£650m) in the next five years by focusing on the maintenance, inspection and repair subsea market.