Bosses at Prosafe are hoping an office move will “refresh and reinvigorate” the firm’s Aberdeen operations at a time when the oil and gas industry is at an “all-time low”.
Prosafe has decided to sell its base on Greenwell Road in East Tullos Industrial Estate, where it has been stationed for more than 20 years, and take up a 10-year lease at the Silver Fin building on Union Street.
Ryan Stewart, chief operating officer at the offshore accommodation vessel contractor, said the move was not motivated by a desire to “save a few more dollars”.
Mr Stewart said the old office no longer suited the company’s needs as it was too large, had expensive rates and required a “degree of maintenance”.
Moving to Silver Fin won’t generate a “fantastic saving” but will give Prosafe’s 25-strong Aberdeen team a “refreshed outlook” and “a bit of optimism for the future”, he said.
He expects to relocate in the autumn once the new office space, which will be capable of accommodating up to 40 people, has undergone a refit.
Mr Stewart said he was pleased the board at Prosafe, headquartered in Stavanger, was willing to “invest in the longer term and in the North Sea” amid so much “doom and gloom” in the oil industry.
Much of the work Prosafe had lined up for 2020 was linked to the Forties Pipeline System shutdown, which has now been deferred until 2021 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It means most of Prosafe’s North Sea vessels are laid up and preparing for activity next year.
The pandemic coupled with the associated crude price rout also forced Prosafe to make a small number of employees redundant in Aberdeen.
Mr Stewart said: “There has been an element of headcount decrease due to the lower activity. At same time, I’m confident we’ve retained the level of competence we need to be able to react and operate.
“We have work next year and we’re in negotiations for further work in the North Sea and beyond so it’s not all doom and gloom, but of course have to cut our cloth to suit us.”
Mr Stewart said Prosafe had, in fact, been adapting to lower activity levels in the North Sea for several years.
He said: “Hook up and commissioning work has tailed off and operators’ maintenance budgets have been cut back so we’ve had to our address overheads, and that’s not just to do with headcount, it’s across the board.”
However, Mr Stewart still feels there is a future for Prosafe in the North Sea.
He added: “We’re in a declining market in the North Sea, for sure, but it’s not finished. Every company is transitioning into new renewable energies, so there is a future. It may not be all to do with oil and gas but there is a future.”