Amec has made a strategic acquisition in Canada designed to reinforce its already strong position in helping the extraction of oil and gas from the tar sands of Alberta.
The increasingly international engineering and project-management group is buying, for £22million in cash, Bower Damberger Rolseth Engineering (BDR).
Calgary-based BDR focuses on technical engineering services to the in-situ production of viable oil and gas from the sands. With 85 employees, it has a particular expertise in thermal recovery of oil through its steam-assisted gravity-drainage methods.
In-situ deposits are those which lie too far below the surface to be recovered by open-cast mining and therefore require a different approach to extraction.
Amec said BDR’s reputation and capability in this part of the oilsand sector fitted neatly with its existing position and expertise in oil sands, where it is increasingly regarded as the market leader in the provision of upstream engineering services and project management to the surface mining sector.
Amec has been involved in every mineable oilsand project in Alberta since the early 1990s. Out of the group’s 3,500-strong North America workforce, some 1,500 are engaged in the oilsand business alone. It is led by Peter Madden, formerly head of projects based in London.
The key to building the Alberta position was the acquisition of Canadian company Agra in 2000, since when Amec has applied North Sea-honed safety thinking and project management in Alberta. A source said that, not even in Aberdeen was it realised just how big the engagement with oil sands by companies in Europe’s energy capital is. It is a business opportunity that has been promoted by Scottish Enterprise/Scottish Development International.
Amec chief executive Samir Brikho said of the BDR deal: “This is an important acquisition for Amec and one which enhances our position in the fast growing Canadian oilsand market.”
Neil Bruce, chief operating officer of Amec’s natural resources arm, said: “By comb-ining Amec’s leading position in the mineable segment and BDR’s strong reputation in in-situ extraction, we are creating a capability that is well positioned in a market with good growth prospects.”
Both Mr Brikho and Mr Bruce are in Houston this week for OTC.
Mr Brikho said energy offered a huge opportunity for British firms and that there was no reason why the sector could not account for a million UK jobs by 2030; roughly twice the current headcount.
Mr Bruce is to speak about the growing importance of national oil companies as clients to the supply chain.