Since the re-location of the business to Norway in 2003, North Sea Cables Norge has prospered in an expanding market.
North Sea Cables Norge, as it is known today, was established in Norway almost two decades ago in 1989 as a subsidiary of the Scottish outfit North Sea Cables Ltd. The early operations of the daughter company were predominantly centred on the sales of surplus cable, but having quickly garnered a reputation for expertise, the business soon won a number of significant contracts with organisations such as Phillips Petroleum. Until 2003 it was part of the global Noskab Group, which has divisions all over the world, and as such it allowed the company to gain a significant amount of knowledge and experience in the cable sector.
As a result of the group’s fiscal difficulties, changes were made to Noskab and from the 1st April 2003 North Sea Cables Norge became a 100 per cent owned Norwegian enterprise, with a management buyout meaning that employees owned all of the shares. Looking back at the changes to the business, Alf-Ole Tjostheim, managing director, tells European Oil and Gas Magazine: “We were originally founded by a Scottish business that was based in Aberdeen and operated under the name of North Sea Cables.
“They gave us the name North Sea Cables Norway, or Norge as we know it. That partnership came to an end because of financial problems but thankfully we were able to raise the capital for a takeover. We quickly restructured and reorganised, so we became recognised as a stand-alone business while keeping our name. Today, we rely on the oil and gas industry for 85-90 per cent of our revenues, with the rest coming from the shipping sector.”
As with any business, the progression from daughter company and the security that goes with such standing, to a go-alone venture is an ambitious and challenging step. “One of the keys was that the people who were involved in the buyout knew our market and its requirements,” Alf-Ole comments, musing on how North Sea Cables Norge evolved after the changes. “That was an advantage, as was the fact that most of our operations already came from Norwegian organisations, as well as some on a global basis – we focussed on maintaining the Norwegian activities. We knew we could keep and better the relationships we had with most of our customers and suppliers.”
It was such knowledge of the region that was, and remains, one of the main strengths of this small yet successful company. “One our main assets is clearly the knowledge that we have for the market sector we are operating within,” he continues. “We are proud of the long-term relationships we have with clients and suppliers alike, which have been built on our commitment to our stock and the maintenance we carry out in the North Sea. The most important aspect of our work, however, is our proven ability to have the product readily available, as a lot of our business depends on us providing cable on the day, or the day after at the very latest. We cannot wait for a factory production to begin in two days, for example, so we need a full range of stock all the time – that is vital.”
The same is true for the standard of cable that North Sea Cables Norway distributes. The main staple of its product portfolio is the full range of NEK 606 cables, which is the Norwegian standard for offshore oil and gas, ship and marine installations. They are also ISO 9001 and 14001 certified, and are armoured with a tinned copper wire braid, which is excellent for mechanical and corrosive protection. “They are products that are made for the Norwegian sector of the North Sea,” Alf-Ole says. “However, we are increasingly seeing it used in other regions such as the Far East and the US, so it is not limited. It is the key product for us and we strive to make sure it is always at our disposal.
“That is one of the most important factors in maintaining the success and the reputation of the business. What the client relies on is the right product being delivered to the right place at the time they want. The cost is always going to be a factor but it is not the most important aspect. The continuation of the relationships we have built is dependent on the delivery of the correct product in the time frame that they desire.”
It is a commitment and vision that has paid dividends thus far and, with the oil and gas sector somewhat bucking the current trend of economic decline, one that should see North Sea Cables Norge right in the future. Analysing the current state of the market and his aspirations for the business, Alf-Ole concludes: “Clearly there is some uncertainty but the maintenance operations are likely to increase – we are very positive in that respect and look forward to the opportunities that we think will develop.
“We have a clear strategy on how we will develop the company; we want to develop new relationships with potential clients that we don’t currently work with, which will increase our market share. We will be challenged by our competitors, that is natural, but our vision is to become the leading provider of NEK 606 products to the North Sea basin.”
North Sea Cables Norge AS