A COMPANY that helps oil and gas firms limit their impact on the environment has said it is expanding on Orkney in response to growing demand from businesses working in the North Sea.

Opus is investing £420,000 in its Orkney facility, where it plans to hire four new staff members over the next two years.

Opus provides services like separating hydrocarbons from water that is produced in oil and gas extraction along with specialist environmental testing and monitoring.

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The company said oil and gas companies were having to comply with ever-tightening regulations in the extraction process.

Glen McLellan, director of strategic operations at Opus, said: "No longer do oil companies just need to monitor the oil in water they discharge; they now also look at the overall toxicity of that effluent."

He added: "It gets tested for toxicity, then is subjected to environmental modelling to understand, predict and ensure that there is no risk of potential impact on the environment."

Mr McLellan said Opus had invested in building the capacity to complete the required risk-based assessments at its base at Flotta.

He believes increasing use of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques by companies that want to boost production may provide a boost to demand for Opus' services. "More water and more chemicals are needed during EOR in mature fields and often materials in the discharged water are less biodegradable and would, therefore, fail toxicity tests," he said.

Opus was acquired by Norway's Aker Solutions in September.