Bosses and staff at Well-Safe Solutions are celebrating a major milestone in the company’s history today.
It is five years to the day since the Aberdeen-headquartered decommissioning specialist officially began trading, following months of meticulous planning.
Chief executive of Well-Safe Phil Milton, an oil and gas veteran of more than 30 years, said: “We launched on August 1, 2017. Prior to that there was about a year’s worth of build-up; talking to various different investment houses and private individuals, and putting the executive team together.
“The company started off with five employees, and now we have more than 250. We have continued that growth with the acquisition of the Well-Safe Defender and work is ongoing to get her ready to go out to work in March next year.
“The initial investment came from a variety of places; the majority shareholder at launch was Alasdair Locke, our chairman. Scottish Enterprise also provided some funding, and the executive management team all contributed to the start-up of the business as well.”
Since launch, Well-Safe has grown rapidly, drastically expanding its headcount and its asset portfolio.
By the end of the financial year, the company expects to be employing around 300 people who will support the work of its three rigs – the Well-Safe Protector, the Well-Safe Guardian, and the Well-Safe Defender.
The latter, formerly called the WilPhoenix, was bought from Awilco Drilling in a £12.4 million deal earlier this year.
In the last year, Well-Safe has bagged a raft of contracts as decommissioning in the UK North Sea continues its recovery following a tough few years during Covid-19.
Mr Milton said: “Leading up to Covid we were making really good progress as a business, but also as an industry. The pandemic obviously impacted that – some projects were axed and others were delayed.
“Since the latter half of 2021, it has been extremely busy, building up ready to undertake a number projects.
“It has definitely improved significantly, and we are extremely busy at the moment, which is very encouraging.
“Even when you look outside of Well-Safe at the activity levels in all areas of decommissioning, it is starting to pick up. The wells tend to be at the start of campaigns, particularly when you have large assets and infrastructure around them.”
Looking ahead to the coming years, Well-Safe has clear ambitions to expand overseas as decommissioning ramping up in other parts of the world.
Mr Milton said: “First and foremost, our objective is to continue building on what we’ve achieved here in the UK. We’ve got some solid foundations, our three assets, and we want to see them safely mobilised.
“From there, Well-Safe’s objective is to grow our offering and take it to the international markets; taking it to areas where we feel we can really add something. We are already delivering a number of engineering desktop studies for customers in the likes of Australia and New Zealand.
“Asia Pacific is another key area for us. Our model works really well in highly regulated regions, as we see here in the UK – that’s where our value proposition is the strongest.”
As is the case with all milestones, they allow for a period of reflection on achievements to date.
Mulling over highlights from the last five years, Mr Milton said: “There are so many. We have recruited an incredible team here at Well-Safe, and being able to welcome so many new faces into the business has been fantastic.
“The acquisition of all three units has been a real achievement, and more recently, seeing the Well-Safe Guardian leaving for its multi-well campaign in January will stick in the memory.
“There has been a lot of highlights – that’s just a handful of them.”