Integrated Subsea Services

Under the sea

Recognised in world markets for its experience in deepwater areas, flexibility, commitment to collaboration and technical innovation, the UK’s oil and gas industry enjoys a first-class reputation for originality and excellence.

Since 1965, the equivalent of more than 31 billion barrels of oil have been produced by the UK offshore industry with industry investment in the sector exceeding £200 billion over the same period. Total oil and gas production from the UK continental shelf to 2010 is estimated at the equivalent of 12.9 billion barrels of oil.

A number of companies, ranging from SMEs to multi-nationals, now operate in the industry and technology and skills developed in the North Sea are increasingly being exported to global exploration and production regions.

One such enterprise, Integrated Subsea Services (ISS) is an independent diving and ROV company providing the international oil and gas industry with a complete underwater contracting service. With more than 20 years relevant subsea management experience, the company’s mission is to offer a cost-effective, high quality service with a strong emphasis on safety and operational efficiency.


This is an ambitious goal, but it will be accomplished by:

  • Delivering operational excellence and the highest standards of quality performance
  • Delivering the highest standards of safety through its Company Safety First Culture and Safety Management System
  • The services of its key asset – multi disciplined and highly experienced dedicated personnel – both offshore and onshore
  • The provision of innovative ideas and cost effective solutions for the benefit of its clients
  • The development of exclusive relationships with its strategic suppliers.

With direct access to Aberdeen Harbour, the company’s headquarters are ideally located for North Sea mobilisations. Its facilities include a 15 tonne overhead crane and test tank suitable for ROV and equipment testing.

ISS is able to manage the following operations from this location:

  • Saturation diving services
  • DSV services utilising vessels such as the Bibby Aquamarine
  • Air diving services
  • Drill support ROV services
  • Rope access services
  • Advanced inspection ROV services
  • Pipeline inspection services
  • Project engineering support
  • Well abandonment and intervention
  • Survey services

All of these services are expertly project managed to meet and often exceed client expectations.

As part of the company’s commitment to excellence, ongoing training programmes and competency schemes reinforce the knowledge of its multi-disciplined workforce. What’s more, because of an open and honest culture ISS attracts and retains highly motivated personnel.

In addition, ISS believes that outstanding safety performance is the key to business success, in the long-term, and therefore trains and encourages its personnel to show the highest possible levels of safety performance at all times. Safety is a key performance indicator throughout the company – led by senior management the company’s commitment to a safety first culture is communicated through every level of line management, both onshore and offshore. This ensures the highest possible safety standards are achieved.

ISS also deems that high quality standards play a vital role in helping to achieve the
performance, goals and objectives demanded by customers. The company’s commitment to quality is demonstrated by its management systems, which are ISO 9001 certified.

Utilising specialist modern vessels and equipment, ISS provides both saturation and air diving services to the oil and gas industry. These services continue to be a major client requirement in all areas of global subsea operations, such as new field installations, pipeline repairs, pipeline tie-ins, riser installation, pipeline installation and inspection, repair and maintenance. With an emphasis on safety and quality performance, ISS is also a member of IMCA’s Diving/ROV divisions and operates fully in accordance with all current UK HSE legislation and IMCA guidance.

ISS has a pool of over 400 experienced saturation divers, air divers and associated topside supervisory and life support personnel available for its offshore operations. The company provides a wide range of diving services including: pipeline installation support/testing, pipeline tie-ins/mattress installation, pipeline repairs/replacements, riser installation/retrofit/tie-ins, subsea manifold installation/tie-ins, subsea well intervention, subsea well abandonment, platform inspection and platform abandonment.

ISS owns and operates a contemporary fleet of ROVs capable of providing advanced inspection services and drill support services, worldwide. To optimise performance and reliability, a modern fleet of vehicles is maintained and can be specified for particular projects to provide a cost effective service to clients.

ISS ROV services include full inspection, repair and maintenance programmes, platform inspection, pipeline inspection, diver observation and drill support ROV services for both independent and major oil and gas operators. Vehicle capabilities extend to 3000m water depths allowing ISS to operate in the expanding deepwater fields such as West Africa and Gulf of Mexico, as well as supporting the traditional North Sea market place.

The ISS Ltd ROV fleet also includes zone two rated systems complete with gravity base launch and recovery systems, which allows ISS to carry out platform based ROV inspection programmes in a safe and efficient manner.

In October 2002, Integrated Subsea Services announced the acquisition of Sarb Marine Ltd, with funding from Bank of Scotland Business Banking – this purchase saw ISS come into being. Sarb Marine was an established provider of specialist observation class ROV services to the North Sea oil and gas industry and can trace its trading origins back to the early 1980s.

Ian Herd and Bruce Webster, both formerly of DSND Subsea Limited, created ISS to provide diving and ROV services to the offshore oil and gas industry and initially
targeted a number of major diving/ROV contracts in the North Sea area.

ISS managing director, Ian Herd said of the acquisition: “This will greatly strengthen our capabilities and we are delighted to welcome Sarb into our company. Our vision is to provide a client focused and fully integrated Diving/ROV service package to the oil and gas industry.We are absolutely committed to providing both a safe and performance driven service and we know that Sarb has a longstanding, and well proven, track record of delivery in these areas.”

ISS is a small firm with big ambitions – it was the outright winner in the keenly contested Scottish Offshore Achievement Awards 2004 Small Company Award category, when ISS impressed the judges with the clarity of its vision and business strategy, not to mention the rapid turnover growth since it started trading in October 2002.

From the beginning, ISS set its sights on offering a convincing alternative to the three main subsea contractors. “The merger of DSND and Halliburton Subsea left a niche in the subsea market for a small company offering safe, highly efficient and cost effective services to the North Sea oil and gas operators – particularly the new, smaller independents,” explains Ian. “The company focused its attention on the subsea inspection, repair and maintenance sector reasoning that this was an area likely to be neglected by bigger outfits preoccupied with the major deepwater development opportunities opening up in the Gulf of Mexico and off West Africa.”

Turnover climbed from £398,000 in 2002 to £40 million last year, and is currently forecast to go beyond that benchmark this year. The founding directors of ISS were Ian Herd and Bruce Webster. Jerry Starling, diving operations manager, David Rhodes, ROV operations manager and Philip Bradbury, safety, quality and environmental manager, joined them later. The management team line-up is now a strong one, with each member having accumulated between 15 and 20 years’ subsea industry experience.

On start-up, the UK North Sea provided the main focus for ISS activities. However, a broadening of those horizons was not long in coming, thanks to a growing reputation for HSEQ and operational excellence. Indeed, subcontract work providing observation-class ROVs off Norway and Azerbaijan was quickly added to its job roster.

More recently Gupco, the joint venture between BP and the Egyptian national oil company, has joined the ISS client list. Following BP’s decision to adopt IMCA safety standards across its subsea operations worldwide, ISS was invited to work with Gupco’s long-term subsea contractor to assist in its implementation of the new requirements. Out of this, eventually, came a $2.2 million contract for the provision of diving and ROV services – from partner Bibby Offshore’s vessel – for pipeline repair works in the Morgan field in the Gulf of Suez.

“ISS will be looking to leverage this experience elsewhere,” concludes Ian. “We are particularly targeting the Far East, West Africa and Brazil as we can see a requirement for a smaller, focused contractor to assist the majors in these areas.”

Integrated Subsea Services (ISS)