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McColl unveils plans for push into North Sea

SCOTTISH engineering entrepreneur Jim McColl's Clyde Blowers Capital is planning a push into the North Sea on the back of its $20 million (£13m) purchase of US company Energy Services International (ESI).

Mr McColl, one of Scotland's richest men, yesterday revealed plans to open an ESI service centre in Aberdeen as he unveiled the acquisition of the Texas-based company, which manufactures and repairs systems and equipment for jack-up rigs.

He declined to put a figure on the number of jobs which could be created in Aberdeen.

Asked if it could exceed 100, he replied: "I think it is too early to say, but it is feasible."

ESI employs about 108 people. It specialises in manufacturing and repairing jacking systems and drilling-related equipment for jack-up rigs – a type of mobile platform used for exploratory drilling and offshore wind farm service.

ESI's capability also includes repair and refurbishment services for a wide range of pumping, lifting and hoisting equipment used on offshore and onshore drilling rigs.

Clyde Blowers Capital executive chairman Mr McColl, whose business empire is based in East Kilbride, said: "There are lots of opportunities in the North Sea.

"It could be quite a reasonable presence in the North Sea because they (ESI) do focus on service work and refurbishment and, with the downtime that has been experienced on some rigs in the last two years, there is a lot more focus on the integrity of the equipment and the maintenance.

"If the North Sea was to become a significant part of it (ESI), we may just make the head office in the UK."

Mr McColl cited potential to increase ESI's annual turnover from $20m to $100m over the next three to five years.

He highlighted opportunities to expand ESI, which includes trading businesses Southern Technology and Services and Vicksburg Marine, into the Middle East, West Africa, and south-east Asia as well as the North Sea. ESI, which has operations in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, has a strong presence in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr McColl, who highlighted plans to invest up to $60m in developing the firm, said: "They have had plenty of opportunity in their own area, without going beyond. We see a good opportunity to globalise this business."

And he cited potential to expand ESI through acquisition as well as organic growth.

Citing opportunities for ESI to become involved in renewable energy in Scotland, Mr McColl said: "It has got applications for the offshore wind (sector) as well. That has got opportunity for us in Scotland."

Mr McColl said that, with the ESI purchase, the £420m Clyde Blowers Capital III investment fund now had five "platform" companies and planned to acquire about two more such businesses. He noted Clyde Blowers Capital's "buy-and-build" strategy to expand these companies, including acquisitions.

The ESI deal follows Clyde Blowers Capital's purchase last month of Rosyth, Fife-based Parsons Peebles Generation – a specialist in power generation and motors. A Parsons Peebles Generation service centre is being set up in Aberdeen – creating dozens of jobs.

Clyde Blowers Capital portfolio companies now employ about 6500 people worldwide.

Mr McColl said: "We have still got a passionate bias towards Scotland. I am glad to see we can contribute towards the growth here."

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