Helix Well Ops cuts fleet and headcount as losses surge

Helix Well Ops UK vice-president Steve Nairn
Helix Well Ops UK vice-president Steve Nairn

An Aberdeen-based subsea services firm cut its fleet size from three to two and reduced its workforce by almost a third during a year which saw its losses surge by 90%.

But Helix Well Ops UK has said it anticipates an improvement in business this year as confidence begins to return to the oil and gas market.

Accounts filed at Companies House show pre-tax losses at the firm soared to £12.85million in the year to the end of December 2016, from £6.75million in 2015.  Turnover dropped 35% to £72.3million in the same period.

The company, part of Houston-headquartered Helix Energy Solutions Group, returned the chartered Skandi Constructor vessel to its owners DOF Subsea last March.  According to the accounts it had been stacked for most of the year.

The annual figures also show the firm cut its workforce to 70 in 2016, from 100 the year before.

In the accounts, Helix Well Ops UK vice-president Steve Nairn said an operational highlight of the year had been the return to service for the first time since December 2014 of the dive support vessel Seawell, following a major refit.  The Seawell was utilised for 154 days in 2016 and the firm’s other vessel, the Well Enhancer, for 236 days.

Mr Nairn added:  “The oil and gas subsea sector in which the company participates continues to experience considerable challenges due to the the low oil price.  The continued focus on the oil and gas supply chain has resulted in revised contract terms and rates across all clients.

“2017 is anticipated to be an improvement on 2016 with the majority of work scheduled for the Seawell and Well Enhancer committed as backlog.”

Helix Energy Solutions Group did not respond to a request for a comment.