Ecosse Subsea Systems profits treble after turning to renewables

Ecosse Subsea Systems Ltd more than trebled profits to £3.4million in the year to March 2014.

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The Aberdeenshire-based subsea engineering specialist’s latest published accounts also show it increased revenue by 88% to £15.6million.

The firm is attributing the growth to a diversification from its traditional oil and gas market into renewables and interconnectors. In the past two years, 55% of its projects have been focused on the renewables sector.

The company employs 70 people offshore and at its headquarters in Banchory. Over the past year it has spent more than £1million in research and development.

As a result, ESS has developed technologies which are in high demand for seabed clearance work, trenching and cable laying projects. Over the year to 2014, these included a £5.4million contract on the Baltic 2 windfarm offshore Germany and a multi-million pound cable-lay contract for a European utilities provider in the Humber Estuary.

In March, the firm also announced it had signed a Letter of Intent with ABB to provide seabed clearing and trenching services on the 100 mile £1.2billion Caithness-Moray electricity transmission link project, which could become the company’s largest-ever contract award.

ESS managing director, Mike Wilson, said: “The results are extremely encouraging and confirm that our technologies are equally suited to and easily transferable between the oil and gas sector, which is where we cut our teeth, and the green energy market.

“Added to that, we have just won our first contract in the interconnector sector and we hope success on the Caithness-Moray project will lead the way to further awards in this field.

“We benefited greatly from research and development in our technologies starting to come through, and recognition from clients that we have developed a suite of tools which deliver measurable time and cost savings.

“Diversification is paying off for us as can be seen in these latest financial results and we will continue to look for new opportunities in other markets, including oil and gas and interconnector projects in Arctic waters where we have already received some interest.”

While ESS had already suffered from the effects of a low oil price, with the cancellation of a number of oil and has projects, Mr Wilson noted that while 2015 turnover is expected to increase on the previous year, margins will be tighter.

He added: “With a healthy balance sheet and debt-free status, we are in a strong position to counter the challenges facing the oil and gas industry while capitalising on new opportunities in other markets.”

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