An oil services firm is expecting record revenue levels this year as it opens a new base in Aberdeen for work across the Eastern Hemisphere.
EV Group, a downhole camera specialist which started life filming extreme sports, saw business drop by 40% amid the latest oil price crash.
However efforts to diversify into new markets and offer a wider scope of services is paying off, with revenues this year projected to surpass 2014’s £20million pre-downturn total.
It comes as the company has opened a new base in Blackburn, consolidating the north-east team into a single site from other offices in Bridge of Don and Banchory.
EV has primary bases in Aberdeen, Norwich and Houston but operates in 26 countries around the world with about 130 staff.
As well as the North Sea, the Blackburn site, with 18 staff, develops tools for use across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia with engineers being sent to oversee operations.
The firm has traditionally specialised in emergency response, using cameras to identify problems down oil wells, with an estimated global market share of 70%.
However, chief executive Fraser Louden, appointed in 2016, said EV is now experiencing growth thanks to globalisation, including new offices in South America, the Middle East and south-east Asia.
Meanwhile it has boosted its service offering, providing visual analytics to measure well integrity and production which adds value to clients “rather than just a picture of the problem”.
Mr Louden added: “Business dropped 40% in 2014 but this year we will be back above where we were in terms of a revenue perspective.
“We’re in a completely different market so for our business to be back is a huge step in the right direction.
“Over the last three years the business has grown approximately 20% per year and with that type of growth we need suitable facilities to maintain that for the future.”
EV was bought in 2014 by Edinburgh-based private equity group Dunedin Partners, its first oil and gas investment, for £69million.
This was followed by the oil price crash and Mr Louden praised the firm for keeping with them.
He added: “Dunedin have been very supportive through the downturn. It’s not easy when a private equity firm invests in a company then a severe market downturn hits.
“They need a backbone to stick by that investment.”
Formula 1, yacht racing and Top Gear
EV was founded in 2000 by current chief technical officer Jonathan Thursby to film extreme sports.
He created what was then known as Extreme Video, and started off with CCTV-type cameras mounted on cars and boats.
This led to a breakthrough on the British Rally Championship and further contracts with Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship, as well as filming the BT Round the World Yacht challenge.
Mr Thursby then had a stint designing cameras for motoring TV show Top Gear, which included work in the deserts of Africa and the North Pole.
Around the mid-2000s he decided to diversify into oil and gas, using robust camera equipment to identify problems downhole.
EV soon became a leader in the niche market of using high definition video images on the inside of an oil well.
Mr Thursby later received backing from private equity firm Lime Rock partners which helped expand the business, which was later sold to Dunedin in 2014.
Today, the firm carries out around 1,500 “runs” per year around the world, with recent office openings in the Middle East, south-east Asia and South American nations like Argentina and soon to be Brazil.
CEO Fraser Louden said UK North Sea work has slowed down in recent months but the overall group has seen global yearly growth of 20%.
Meanwhile the new Blackburn site will remain busy due to it serving several countries around the Eastern Hemisphere.
He added: “The oil and gas market is a funny place, different regions react at different times.
“We’ve had an extremely strong year in US land, over 50% growth there this year over the last year.
“It doesn’t surprise me that the North Sea is down, which means in the short-term we won’t be investing much more, but in the mid-term it will come back up and we will invest more heavily.”