Well-Safe Solutions is anticipating a jobs boost following the acquisition of the Ocean Guardian unit, a semi-submersible drilling asset described as a “stalwart in the North Sea”.
The Aberdeen firm confirmed that the deal would bring a further 90 jobs to the North Sea over the next year, adding to the company’s current 40 employees.
It plans to invest in the region of $100m on upgrades to the Ocean Guardian, which will see the well drilling asset converted into a bespoke plug and abandonment (P&A) unit.
Well-Safe claims that this agreement represents the first time a privately-owned Scottish business will own and operate this type of unit.
Currently owned by Diamond Offshore, the unit is to be renamed Well-Safe Guardian after delivery.
It will be repurposed to include a dive system and the capability to deploy a subsea intervention lubricator, which is nearing completion of the design and engineering phase with support from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.
Research has indicated there are more than 33,000 wells worldwide to be decommissioned over the next 20 years.
The firm’s long-term goal is to export its operating model and advance from the UK into this global marketplace.
The decommissioning company is already progressing in talks to expand its offering through the acquisition of a second semi-submersible asset and plans to follow this with the addition of a jack-up, mono-hull vessel and land-based P&A units.
Executive director Mark Patterson, who heads up the asset purchase programme, said: “This is a major milestone in Well-Safe’s journey and one that is in-line with our strategy. It’s great to have The Ocean Guardian, which has a great reputation on which we will build, as our first asset.”
Launched in August 2017 with the vision to become a “Tier One” wells decommissioning company, the firm’s team now boasts more than 450 wells worth of combined experience.
Chief executive Phil Milton said the firm is eyeing further purchases, adding: “We have stayed totally focused and committed to our original strategy and are delighted to have reached this agreement with Diamond Offshore for the acquisition of our first asset, which will allow us to deliver the complete P&A solution.
“We have had a number of in-depth conversations with potential clients and believe the purchase of this asset will allow us to advance these towards firm commitments to our P&A club.”
Andy Samuel, chief executive of Oil and Gas Authority(OGA), added: “The OGA very much welcomes new investments and innovative business models such as this, as a key part of achieving industry’s 35 per cent decommissioning cost reduction target.
“Joint well plug and abandon campaigns, using the club approach should not only prove to be more cost efficient, but also help build UK supply chain expertise in decommissioning which is then globally exportable.”