THREE international technology companies which could

create around 200 jobs in the next three years were yesterday welcomed to the Aberdeen

Science and Technology Park by Scottish Business and Industry Minister Gus Macdonald.

The park was praised by one of the new arrivals, from

Norway, as the kind of venture which his own country should be undertaking. Macdonald said science parks were fundamental to the ''knowledge economy'' of the future.

The three new arrivals will create up to 90 jobs immediately but their expansion plans for the Balgownie site until 2001 should more than double that figure.

Bell Geospace provides data services and products for leading exploration and production

companies to complement

seismic data and to help identify promising drilling locations.

Its parent company is in

Houston, Texas, and the new office will serve Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Up to $5m (#3m) will be invested in the Aberdeen operation in the next three years.

Trihedral Engineering is based in Bedford, Nova Scotia, and its new company, Trihedral UK, will act as a software research and development centre for its main product, a monitoring and control software package allowing customers to view the status of their engineering equipment and control it using a keyboard and mouse.

Trihedral president Glenn

Wadden said the people it had hired in Aberdeen were ''the best I've encountered anywhere in the world'', and their skills had been vital in attracting the company.

IPRES UK is part of a Norwegian group which provides state-of-the-art computer technology for 3D simulation of oil and gas fields to improve production and recovery. It believed it was essential to establish a base in the European oil capital.

Macdonald said: ''The park has a superb track record of success and has justifiably acquired a widely acclaimed reputation for excellence.

''What has developed here so successfully is a dynamic partnership between the public and private sector in an environment which is acknowledged as one of Scotland's most exciting locations for companies and individuals to translate technology into business opportunities.

''Aberdeen Science and

Technology Park has become a place for winners.'' He said the current activities and expansion plans of the three companies were in keeping with the vision of the park.

''The support available here is consistent with their own vision as expanding companies at the leading edge of their respective fields.

''Trihedral has come from Canada with an established international reputation for

software and engineering services and a significant factor was the availability of skilled people.

''That is a heartening endorsement of Scotland's education and skills advantages.

''As a Government we are committed to fiercely highlighting and promoting to potential investors the range of advantages Scotland has to offer - a flexible and skilled workforce, a forward looking education system, our rapidly developing infrastructure and a quality of life, particularly in the North-east, which is second to none.

''As a Government we are investing very much in education, in a skills strategy, in life-long learning,'' added the Minister.

''We are setting up a university of industry to prepare

Scotland for a leading edge role in the knowledge economy that is already with us in many areas.

Macdonald said that building on the science base of Scottish universities had been going on for a long time and it was important to commercialise on the

output of the research departments of country's 13 universities.

''My mission in coming out of business and into politics is to try to make sure we key-in at every level and that our big companies are harnessed to the national effort along with the universities and along with our development agencies who have done so well in areas like this.''