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Expansion For ClerkMaxwell

10 April 2012

A year on from its acquisition by Costain, oil and gas upstream engineering consultancy ClerkMaxwell is seeking to expand considerably the portfolio of services it offers the marketplace.

The Group’s backing of the Aberdeen-based organisation has enabled it to raise its sights and aim for larger projects than those for which it would previously have envisaged bidding.

In the past year its size has roughly doubled to 80 personnel and further staff expansion is anticipated as it continues to grow. It currently has engineering offices in Manchester and Teesside.

“We’ve gained four new clients and turnover is up 60% over the past year, but to move us on to the next level we need to move in to the Engineering  Procurement and Construction (EPC) side,” explains Business Development Director, Graham Callander.

“The ideal next step would be a long-term framework arrangement with a major oil company where ClerkMaxwell is responsible for all the front-end studies, detailed design activities and construction associated with the customer’s assets,” says Graham. Bids are currently lodged for two such framework contracts, with the successful tenderer due to be announced later this year.

Having Costain as a backer makes a difference, adds Graham. Although the Group has not had a significant presence in Scotland in recent years it is remembered as a major EPC contractor on some major oil and gas industry projects there. For this reason, ClerkMaxwell’s planned expansion into new areas may be better characterised as a re-entry rather than a new arrival.

“Having Costain’s scale behind us acts as an enabler to get through the door and gives us enhanced credibility,” says Strategy & Growth Director, Alistair Dornan.  “It’s given us corporate backing that we wouldn’t have had a year ago,” agrees Graham.

ClerkMaxwell has no plans to lose its focus on consultancy and front-end services despite its intentions of broadening the scope of its activities.

Among these plans, it aims to expand beyond its traditional North Sea marketplace. The North Sea market is currently “busy but delicate”, says Graham and output is on a steady decline. Despite the high headline figure of a barrel of oil, a significant percentage of the value of each barrel extracted goes to the Government. On top of that, much of the infrastructure was placed in the testing conditions of the North Sea some 30 years ago and maintaining it costs increasingly large amounts of money.

ClerkMaxwell has already done a number of front-end studies for international projects and this is “a good solid trend”, says Graham. “You’ve always got to work to expand your global footprint and that’s something we’re keen to do. The majority of our customers are international businesses and look to us to support them.”