Amec has made an acquisition calculated to deliver huge leverage to its oil & gas engineering and project management capabilities worldwide.
It has bought a leading project services company, Rider Hunt International Limited (RHI), from its owner-managers for £25million in cash.
Based in Godalming, UK, RHI is an international provider of project services to the oil, gas, chemical, energy and process industries.
The company has a professional staff of some 240 people, working in 15 countries, and has locations both in mature markets and frontier regions, including Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
It is a recognised leader in project controls and tendering IT solutions, has an excellent track record of success in major oil&gas projects and has high levels of repeat business from a broad customer base.
Neil Bruce, COO of Amec’s natural resources division, told Energy that the purchase of RHI was of a level of strategic importance that far outweighs the price tag of the company. It has 240 professionals of a type that are very hard to find anywhere, let alone packaged up in a firm of Rider Hunt’s stature.
“RHI has some of the very best people and proprietary systems in the business,” said Bruce, also describing then as “best in class”.
“They are right across the globe, and in many of the same locations as we are, including Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. It’s another piece of the jigsaw for us, especially in frontier regions with customers where really strong project management capabilities are needed to carry out large-scale (oil&gas) developments.
“It’s very much a part of what we’re pushing to develop further … programme project management at the high end.
“Ask anyone about the shortage in project services skills … they’re very, very scarce. While there are aspects of the business where we can grow skills over time, buying someone like Rider Hunt makes huge sense.”
Bruce revealed that negotiations began only a few weeks ago, but that Amec had ample prior exposure to RHI’s capabilities, including on the Ichthys gas condensate project in Australia for the Japanese company, Inpex.
He added that, while the focus was oil&gas, he saw potential for applying RHI’s capabilities to the nuclear and wider power and process parts of Amec’s natural resources business.
“We’re mindful of huge potential right across Amec, even including as an internal business school for us. They will continue to trade as RHI.”
On a note of history, RHi started as a division of Rider Hunt & Partners, a general property consultancy group established in the late-19th century and specialising in quantity surveying. The international division was created in the 1950s to serve the oil&gas and petrochemical industries.
It provided consultancy, software and specialist personnel in support of cost, contracts and schedule-related aspects of client projects and operations.
In 1998, a management buy-in enabled RHi to develop and concentrate resources on its core markets. Since 1998, the company has pursued a policy of global expansion, with its personnel working in more than 15 countries.
Its RHiCOMSTM project cost control system, first introduced in 1988, has become an industry standard for major fabrication unit-rate contracting.
More recently, RHi has developed a powerful project cost control software package, PEMS, which has been adopted by a number of major clients as a class- leading product. Customers include BP, Chevron and Shell.