Koso Kent Introl

Controlled growth

Having undergone numerous ownership and identity changes in its 40-year history, Koso Kent Introl has retained its reputation of excellence for the manufacture of control and choke valves for the offshore oil and gas industry.

Originally established in 1967 under the name Introl by Edward Singleton who recognised a niche in the market for control valves specifically designed to meet the challenges and needs of the North Sea oil and gas arena, the company rapidly achieved growth and a reputation of innovation. While its competitors remained focused on general industry and power generation in the 1960s, the organisation was already entering new markets and was acquired by the British engineering group George Kent before becoming part of the internationally renowned ABB (Asea Brown Boveri) control valves. Today it enjoys a positive relationship with its Japanese mother company Koso that bought it in 2005 and enables it to operate fully autonomously within its chosen markets. Perhaps, the most significant element of its history is that despite the numerous strategic and managerial developments over the years Koso Kent Introl has maintained the same location in Brighouse, West Yorkshire since 1970 representing the fact that the heart of the company and its dedication to quality is still the same.

The organisation’s activities fall into the two main areas of construction projects where its valves are utilised by large engineering procurement contracting houses, and aftermarket services dealing directly with the end customer or a nominated party offering package services. Most of the main oil and gas companies around the world can be classed as Koso Kent Introl customers with its products being used in almost every major oil and gas producing region around the world. Most notably the company also made a return to the subsea market in July 2010 following five years of distance as a result of a stipulation in the company’s last sale. Having spent the last two years working on a project for a new valve and actuator purposely designed to meet the needs of the subsea arena, the company is well placed to take advantage of its recent re-launch and is already making quotes.

Denis Westcott, managing director of Koso Kent Introl outlines its key strengths in the industry: “Although our mother company is in the valve business it is us who specialise in upstream oil and gas solutions and we have been given complete autonomy and therefore flexibility to serve the market. We still manufacture in Brighouse and have extremely good facilities that enable us to receive deliveries from UK suppliers and foundries, machine in-house, and assemble and test our own products to meet the requirements of the ever-demanding offshore field. We regard ourselves as a specialist engineer of control and choke valves that has grown its capabilities over the years and continues to adapt to customer need – we have always received positive feedback from the way that we manage projects.”

By remaining independent from Koso the company gains flexibility, yet it also benefits hugely from the financial backing it offers and its own Vector trim that can be utilised within specific applications for severe conditions in severe service applications. Koso Kent Introl is currently focused on two key developments with the first being the installation of the proven Vector multi-step velocity control Labyrinth trim into special material valves for offshore service packages to provide reliability and quality assurance. Secondly, the organisation is placing a great deal of emphasis on securing the quality and operational efficiency of its subsea solutions. This is especially important in subsea, where if a valve fails a great deal of money has to be spent in fixing it up to 3000 metres under the surface. Thorough testing, quality control and assurance, as well as the company’s previous 20-years of subsea experience guarantee that its valves will operate successfully in such extreme environments.

At present Koso Kent Introl is a key supplier to several projects across the world with its strongest areas of employment being in the North Sea, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in the Caspian Sea, northwest shelf of Australia and offshore Brazil, as well as the coast of western Africa. However, the Gulf of Mexico still remains an essential target for expansion over the coming years, as Denis notes: “We have always been closely connected as a supplier to a major UK oil and gas developer and their projects and some years ago they committed to selling assets in the North Sea and making a move to Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. While we have followed suit, we are also taking advantage of opportunities in the two big developmental areas of Brazil and the northwestern shelf of Australia – we are expecting business to mature here in the coming six months.”

Such optimistic growth targets are occurring in a time of recovery following the global recession and in the past two years Koso Kent Introl has seen a downturn in the new construction projects business, as has everyone who serves the offshore market. The aftermarket support side of the business continued to be profitable and the company survived the downturn with greater success than many of its competitors: “We used the economic downturn as an opportunity to look for prospects elsewhere and are now focused on the upstream oil and gas side of the market. Our emphasis will be on FPSO, platform and subsea projects where we can demonstrate our prowess in expertly machined solutions. Subsea activities will be quite a significant part of the market going forward and we aim to grow our influence in this area. We have recently started an internal continuous improvement programme to help us become more efficient and effective throughout our offering, hopefully facilitating our expansion and cementing our position as a specialist manufacturer,” Denis concludes.

Koso Kent Introl
Products: Control valves