Aberdeen stalwart Balmoral Offshore Engineering already has a business unit trading under that name in Brazil. Now the company is preparing to take the next major step, setting up a manufacturing facility in the region. Meg Chesshyre reports.
It is anticipated that Balmoral Offshore Engineering’s multi-million pound Brazilian investment could create up to 100 local jobs with expertise from the Aberdeen operation being drafted in to assist with plant commissioning. Balmoral already exports more than 95% of goods manufactured at its Aberdeen facility. The company also sees Southeast Asia as an expanding market, and has an agent in Kuala Lumpur. Other growth areas are West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico.
The new Brazilian facility will manufacture the company’s complete range of products from the largest deepwater riser buoyancy and insulation systems to the smaller, more intricate, elastomer mouldings such as bend stiffeners, restrictors and cable protection. International business development director Jim Hamilton says: ‘Having successfully provided deepwater buoyancy and elastomer products for a number of projects offshore Brazil, we believe the time is right to commit to local production. We plan to build on our core value of enhanced customer service in this important market.
‘The plant, which will be strategically located to service the South American sector, will replicate our multi-purpose facility in Aberdeen which has proved to be such an operational success in terms of flexibility and capacity. We anticipate the new facility being in full production in 2012.’
Another major investment by Balmoral led to the opening of a new subsea test centre at the company’s Aberdeen HQ earlier this year. The new centre offers a comprehensive range of procedures including hydrostatic, mechanical and laboratory testing down to sea water depth equivalents of 7000m. It includes a custom-built pressure test vessel, ‘PV6’, thought to be the largest commercially available unit in Europe (OE June).
The new centre will mainly be used for in-house testing, but it is also being offered for third party work.
The global checklist of recent projects for which Balmoral Offshore Engineering has provided its highly engineered buoyancy solutions, often being brought on board by operators at an early stage, is an impressive one. It includes Azurite, Canapu, Dalia, Gimboa, Girassol, Jubilee, Kizomba, MA:D6, Pazflor, Ruby, Skarv, Snorre, Thunder Horse and Tyrihans.
The Balmoral portfolio includes a low density foam (LDF) range rated for 7000m water depths and a 10,000m foam is in development. According to sales director David Clayton, the performance of the LDF range is unique as the buoyancy performance is practically unaffected by hydrostatic pressure and derives from the use of a completely different thermoset resin system to all other syntactic foams on the market.
‘The development our ROV LDF systems has moved Balmoral to the forefront of ROV buoyancy module supply, 'adds Clayton. ‘Relationships with a number of leading manufacturers have seen 'preferred supplier” status being gained for 3000m and deeper rated flotation. In the last 12 months we have supplied dozens of workclass ROV buoyancy sets as well as intervention tooling packs destined for the deeper waters of Brazil, Gulf of Mexico and West Africa. Ultra-deep dive research applications for 500m-plus have seen buoyancy packs shipped to France, Italy, the US and Japan.’ OE
ON TRACK: Balmoral's founder and chairman Jim Milne (left) is pictured receiving this year’s Sunday Times International Fast Track award from Warwick Long of HSBC. With an 82% increase in international sales over the last two years, Balmoral Offshore Engineering improved its Fast Track ranking among British private companies from 45 to 39. Additionally, the company received a special award for Excellence in Emerging Markets in recognition of an improved export performance to South America, Africa and Asia.