A £31 million base that will put the north-east of Scotland at the forefront of subsea oil and gas technology development and training was officially unveiled yesterday.
US energy services giant Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE) hailed its centre of excellence in Montrose as one of the most advanced facilities of its type in the world.
Supported by a £4.9m grant from Scottish Enterprise, BHGE has constructed a new 43,055sq ft building and expanded warehouse space at its existing Angus site.
The investment has created at least 160 new jobs in Montrose, exceeding initial targets and taking the total headcount at the facility to around 560.
Employees have access to virtual reality tools, industrial 3D printing, automation and sensor-equipped machines.
Neil Saunders, chief executive of BHGE’s oilfield equipment business, said the Montrose facility was “the future” of subsea technology and that its workforce was “the envy” of the industry.
He also said the base “embodied” the company’s new “subsea connect” strategy, which is a way of doing business that slashes costs, increases productivity and a simplifies subsea development for customers.
The cornerstone of the strategy is the modular Aptara subsea production system, which is designed and built in Montrose.
The technology will be shipped out to projects in Africa, Australia, Asia, North and South America, as well as the UK.
The approach fits in with the UK oil and gas industry’s Vision 2035 scenario, which targets a doubling of Britain’s revenues from exports of energy technology.
Mr Saunders said Montrose offered a “unique opportunity” to take Aptara from the design phase “all the way to the seabed”.
BHGE also expects the base to help reduce its net carbon emissions to zero carbon by 2050.
Under the proposals for the new centre of excellence in Montrose, the firm’s operations at Broadfold Road in Bridge of Don were ceased and moved to the Angus town.
Mr Saunders said the consolidation of its facilities would reduce BHGE’s carbon footprint by cutting down on transport between its north-east sites.
Aptara itself can also have a positive impact, because it is lighter and uses less steel than more traditional products, he said.
It is also designed to stay on the seabed for the entire life of the oilfield, reducing the need for intervention.
The “consolidation” of BHGE’s operations in the north-east did not lead to significant job losses, the firm said yesterday.
When it emerged in October 2017 that activities from the firm’s manufacturing plant on Broadfold Road, Bridge of Don, would be moved to Montrose, it was reported that “dozens” of employees could lose their jobs.
A BHGE spokeswoman said yesterday: “Consolidating our subsea manufacturing footprint to Montrose and re-distributing our Bridge of Don workforce throughout the north-east didn’t significantly impact jobs.”
While BHGE has moved away from some bases in the region, it has shown its commitment by investing heavily in others, including Montrose and Stoneywood Park North, Dyce.