Full life prospects

ODE provides extensive consulting, engineering, procurement, project management and operations support services to customers in the international oil, gas and renewable energy industries.

Unique in its field, ODE has considerable operations experience, which is reflected back into its market-leading front-end design activities. The business is currently looking to more aggressively expand internationally, build on its operations support and management portfolio, and continue to expand its already extensive services in renewable energy.

Vaughan Rees, business acquisition manager at the company, elaborates: “Offshore Design Engineering Ltd, generally known as ODE, is a consulting and engineering contractor that has been established for over 25 years, offering an unusually broad range of skills and services to the oil and gas and renewables industries. The company is organised into three divisions; Consulting, Projects and Operations. The Consulting Division provides highly skilled conceptual and front end services, the Projects Division delivers detailed engineering design and procurement services in support of EPC projects and the Operations Division supports our clients with respect to the operations, modifications and maintenance of their existing production facilities.”

ODE operates from two centres in the UK: “We have two key offices, one in London and the other in Great Yarmouth,” says Vaughan. “Our Yarmouth office focuses its activities on operations support based on long-term contracts. These are generally engineering and construction orientated, based around major modifications of existing infrastructure and maintenance. In contrast, our London office tends to be more project driven, carrying out a variety of specialist consulting activities, conceptual/front end and detailed engineering designs.

“This extensive catalogue of services is quite unique in that it covers the ‘full life cycle’ of an oil and gas field development. From its initial economic evaluation, in terms of field development options, through front-end engineering and the implementation of the project,” Vaughan continues. “Following the project implementation we are then able to carry out operations support and management for the life of the field, finally providing a decommissioning and abandonment consulting service.”

In a bid to meet one of its key objectives, ODE is looking to gain more international work in the future: “We already operate in the UK and internationally, but one of the cornerstones of our growth plans is to expand our international work through our existing customers that have expanding interests overseas, i.e. grow with them,” Vaughan comments. “We see further expansion into the international arena as a natural progression for us, and in recent years we have been very active in targeting customers in North Africa, the Middle East and India. Over the past 12 months we have been investigating the need for expanding our representation internationally, and during 2007 we would like to establish new overseas offices, probably, in two key areas.

“Recent international successes for our Projects and Consulting Divisions out of London have taken the company into India with Hardy Exploration & Production by redeveloping its PY3 Field, West Africa with Total to undertake pre-project studies for its offshore Nigerian OML 100 redevelopment, and once again with Total, to engineer modifications to its Jafra Field Production facilities deep in the Syrian desert. We have just secured a contract for the front end engineering design for the development of Phases 17 & 18 of the South Pars Gas Field, offshore Iran,” Vaughan expands. “We have been operating in this region for around four years now, starting with the South Pars Phases 4 & 5 front end engineering design and technical support in co-operation with an Iranian EPC contractor. For South Pars 17 & 18 we will once again be responsible for the front end engineering design, and the provision of technical support throughout the detailed design and construction phases.”

Vaughan explains that in terms of another of the company’s future expansion strategies, the company is placing considerable emphasis on building on its involvement in renewable energy: “The company’s renewables business is a significant focus, representing around 15 per cent of our business, and it is growing steadily. Our main focus is on offshore wind farms, although we have been involved in work for onshore wind farm developments as well. ODE has been able to successfully enter this market because of the extensive offshore experience and knowledge that we have, and our ability to transfer this knowledge to the benefit of offshore wind farm developers.

“We initially started work in the renewables sector around five years ago, securing a contract with what was then Powergen and is now E.ON UK for the Project Management Contract for the Scroby Sands wind farm offshore Great Yarmouth,” he continues. “Following on from this successful contract we were pleased to continue our involvement with Scroby Sands and take on the day to day operations and maintenance responsibility. Since then we have secured other significant contracts with offshore wind farm operators such as Centrica, Airtricity and nPower. Our most recent contract, which we are particularly pleased with, is once again with E.ON UK, where we have secured the Works Management Contract for the Robin Rig offshore wind farm. I believe that one of the reasons that we have such success in this area is that we have found the transition from offshore oil and gas to wind power to be natural skills based progression of our capabilities.

“Interestingly, we are currently working on a particularly unique project in the Morecambe Bay area, which is a hybrid power generation facility,” says Vaughan. “The concept is to provide power to the National Grid via a transformer platform linked to a normally unmanned gas turbine power generation platform, which is re-locatable between two small stranded gas fields, and a 30 turbine offshore wind farm.”

Vaughan believes that inevitably, renewable energy will play an increasingly important role in the energy business: “I do not think that there is any doubt that it will be very important in the future, both for ODE and for the UK as a whole. It is an industry that is growing rapidly, and we have to ensure that this is done in the most economical way possible. Looking further ahead, we are now taking an interest in tide and wave generation as well. There are already developmental and pilot plant programmes in existence, particularly with wave energy generation, and ODE is now actively seeking opportunities in the area by collaborating with universities and other companies to advance the technology, but most importantly to bring our practical offshore experience and knowledge to this emerging sector.”

The company’s Operations Division, based in Yarmouth concentrates its business in modifications engineering and implementation projects through long term services contracts with Southern North Sea operators. It also has moved into niche areas of operations support, a specialisation that ODE is looking to expand further in the future. “In a number of instances we may have the day to day responsibility for running a facility,” Vaughan explains. “We started with EON on the Scroby Sands Offshore Wind Farm and now have contracts in the Oil and Gas sector with RWE for its Cavendish Platform and E.ON RuhrGas for the Johnston and Hunter production facilities.

“Central to the Operations Division business is what is termed “brownfield” engineering,” he continues. “Our team regularly provides turnkey solutions to onshore and offshore modification projects for a variety of clients both in the UK and overseas, including Total, Tullow Oil, Perenco, Interconnector, Venture Production and Marathon. Recent projects include major piping and maintenance modifications to the Tullow Bacton Gas Plant and the upgrade and debottlenecking of the water lift and injection facilities at the Total Jafra facilities in Syria.”

Vaughan elaborates: “It has been our intention to move increasingly into niche areas of operations management in recent years. Our strengths in this respect are in offshore wind farms and shallow water gas production facilities The RWE Cavendish operations services success was a particular milestone for us. The Cavendish development programme is in the production drilling phase at the moment, and on completion of drilling the platform will be de-manned and become a normally unmanned production facility. We see this recent success as a springboard for further business opportunities of this type in the future.”

Key to ODE’s success is the skill of its personnel: “One of our main strengths is the broad range of skills and experience that we have,” says Vaughan. “It enables us to feed our knowledge and experience from our operations support activities back into the front end engineering design of new field developments to provide a safe, operable and distinctly economic design. In addition, our size, combined with our experience and focus, allows us to work very closely with particular customers throughout the life of their projects.”

Vaughan is confident that ODE’s experience and knowledge in a multitude of offshore engineering roles, combined with the opportunities in a buoyant market can continue to make ODE successful: “We want to ensure that we maintain our stable and growing workload in the UK, developing the business in all three of our divisions. The principle method of accelerated growth for the company however, will be to expand internationally, building the business through new additional office facilities overseas and expanding our international client base. In terms of renewable energy, we aim to extend our project management and engineering skills in offshore wind farm projects, and to develop our knowledge and skills in alternative renewable energy solutions such as wave and tide,” he concludes.