AN Aberdeen emergency response vessel specialist has secured £62 million funding to support growth as oil and gas prices hit fresh highs in the wake of Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

Sentinel Marine won the support from HSBC and the Virgin Money-owned Clydesdale Bank weeks after highlighting how much work it is doing in the North Sea oil market.

The announcement came as the price of Brent crude surged to $139 per barrel in early trading yesterday following talk at the weekend that sanctions imposed on Russia might be extended to its oil exports. The price was the highest seen since 2008. Brent crude sold for around $80/bbl at the start of the year.

Gas prices also continued their rapid ascent yesterday morning, reaching a fresh record high.

READ MORE: Oil giants Shell and BP to exit Russia amid shock at Ukraine invasion

The price rises eased later in the day but oil and gas still traded at levels that left consumers facing the prospect of further steep increases in household energy bills and the cost of petrol. The rise in commodity prices could encourage firms to increase activity in the North Sea.

Two of Scotland’s best known oil services entrepreneurs, Doug Duguid and Michael Buchan, yesterday underlined the potential for firms to achieve growth in that market and by supporting the fast-growing offshore renewables industry.

The Herald: Doug Duguid and Michael Buchan of I7V Renewbles flank RenQuip’s Marc Gerrard, and John MorganDoug Duguid and Michael Buchan of I7V Renewbles flank RenQuip’s Marc Gerrard, and John Morgan

The I7V Renewables investment business founded by the two men has provided backing for a new tool manufacturing and equipment rental company, RenQuip, which said it will bridge the gap between the hydrocarbon and renewables sectors.

However, another Aberdeen oil services business is facing challenges as a result of recent developments in Ukraine.

Plexus said it has decided to suspend activities with a Russian firm that licences its wellhead technology.

The company said it could incur a £650,000 negative cash flow impact as a result. However, directors anticipate its trading performance in the year to June 30 will be in line with expectations.

READ MORE: Plexus notes potential future job opportunities after cutting losses

Sentinel Marine operates emergency response and recovery vessels (ERRV) which can also be used for services such as cargo delivery. The refinancing package it has secured will support the acquisition of further vessels, which are being sourced from China.

In February the group said: “Much of the work of Sentinel vessels takes place in the North Sea oil fields, however, the firm is seeing increased opportunities beyond this traditional ERRV roles.”

Chief executive Rory Deans said yesterday the firm was diversifying its operations with expansion into the fishery protection sector.

He noted: “Our vessels are multipurpose supporting coastguard functions including search and rescue, sea border control and detection of pollution.”

The Herald: Plexus Holdings chief executive Ben van BilderbeekPlexus Holdings chief executive Ben van Bilderbeek

RenQuip said it expects to at least double its employee numbers in the next 12 months, to more than 10, and to grow annual revenues to around £6m within five years.

Mr Duguid said he was confident that the business will “set the template for tool and equipment rental and sales in the oil and gas sector, and appeal to businesses engaged in energy transition and working to achieve net-zero”.

Mr Duguid and Mr Buchan led the development of the PSL Energy Services business, which was acquired by US oil services giant Halliburton in 2007. They then founded the Enermech business, which was bought by private equity heavyweight Caryle Group in 2018.

Mr Duguid said Mr Gerrard was a highly valued member of the EnerMech management team.

READ MORE: Aberdeen oil services entrepreneurs to back renewable energy hopefuls

The Plexus Holdings well engineering group led by Ben van Bilderbeek signed a licensing deal with Russia’s Gusar in 2016.

The group said yesterday: “As a result of the ongoing situation in Ukraine, Plexus has decided to suspend activities with Gusar until further notice.”