ENERMECH, the acquisitive Scottish engineering business, has bought an African equipment testing firm for £3 million to increase its exposure to the continent's expanding oil and gas industry.

Aberdeen-based Enermech said the acquisition of South Africa's Water Weights International SA (Pty) will help the mechanical engineering group accelerate growth in South Africa and in key East and West African countries.

Based in Cape Town, Water Weights International specialises in load testing equipment like cranes and serves industries including marine as well as oil and gas.

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Managing director Doug Duguid said the deal should provide a platform for swift expansion of Enermech's existing cranes and lifting division. With a base in Ghana this has worked on projects in a range of African countries.

Mr Duguid said: "We have been looking for a suitable partner in Africa, and Water Weights International fits the bill perfectly."

The company provides a range of complementary services and has established relationships with what Mr Duguid called key players in a number of countries.

Mr Duguid: "In light of the large number of oil and gas discoveries in West and East Africa, we believe there will be many opportunities to introduce and establish our business lines."

Enermech plans to invest up to £20m in its African operations over the next three years. It expects to generate additional revenues of £50m annually by 2015 on the back of the investment.

Backed by Lime Rock Equity Partners, Enermech has acquired businesses in the UK, Norway and the United Arab Emirates.

A number of Scottish oil services companies, including Wood Group, have used acquisitions to extend their geographic footprint.