Oil price rise and entrepreneurialism help Abbott to win £1.5m in new projects

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Abbott Risk Consulting, the high-growth Edinburgh-based specialists in risk assessment and compliance, has won new contract wins in its oil and gas division amounting to around £1.5m.

The Oil and Gas division of ARC, which sits alongside sector specialisms in rail, nuclear and defence, has won the new work in Brazil, Norway, North America, Northern Ireland, England, Finland, and the North Sea.

The raft of new contract wins was capped earlier this month the company was awarded a £320,000 contract by Japanese floating platform specialist contractors Modec for safety studies on a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel for Petrobras off the coast of Brazil.

Other recent contract wins for ARC’s Oil and Gas division include a £300,000 contract with SBM on another FPSO operated by Statoil, a £200,000 contract with Bouygues Energy for safety, and risk support for their Waste to Energy Projects in Belfast and Hoddesdon, in Hertfordshire, and a £500m safety engineering scope for Modec on the Culzean FSO in the North Sea.

Managing Director John Abbott, who founded ARC in 2002, said that the recent upturn in the oil price was helping the company, but that an entrepreneurial attitude was a more significant factor to the recent wave of new business gains. He said:

“There is a growing market for UK oil and gas services companies, but you have to go out there and hunt down the opportunities. Whether it’s in India or Africa, there is work out there but you can’t sit in your office waiting for it to come to you. Even if you are a large company, you need to have the same entrepreneurial principles as a small one.”

He added: “The key to what we do is building strong relations. It’s all about trust. People like to do work with people they like to do work with. You have to go out and take an interest in them and what they are doing generally, not just the specific project.”

The recent rise in the oil price, breaking the $70 per barrel mark in January before falling back, has surprised pundits and put a spring in the step of services companies such as ARC, though Mr Abbot said that the price would “need to stabilise at this level for a little bit longer before the oil companies confidence to invest in more operations.“

Michael O’Flaherty, ARC’s principal consultant, group manager Oil and Gas said that its association with the Japanese-owned Modec was a “good example” of the division’s modus operandi.

“We have worked with Modec before and have a track record of delivering similar projects. They like working with us and that has given them the confidence to trust us on a huge project like the Petrobras project in Brazil.”

That project will require ARC to design and execute a risk management programme for a deep-water FPSO that produces oil from subsea wells, and offloads it to adjacent tankers. Designed for environments like West Africa or Brazil, it can operate at depths of 1500 metres or more.

Mr O’Flaherty added: “It’s a facility and a process that is well understood by ARC, though the hazards are quite complex. Our job is to ensure that they have adequate safeguards and protection in place to mitigate the risks.”

“There is a formal process of hazard identification and risk assessment, and working through that process broadly encompasses what we do on all safety studies projects. Assessing risks and working out what additional measures you need in place to safely operate.”

“On this job, one of our tasks is to work closely with the Brazilian regulator, who, because of some accidents that have happened in the past on other similar installations has taken on a much more hands-on role in overseeing these types of facilities.”

With 86 staff spread over 10 offices in the UK, Australia and Singapore and a £90 million-turnover between the four divisions ARC expects to expand its headcount to around 100 within two years, on a projected revenue growth of 20-25 percent.

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