date icon 11 FEB 2021

Series of contract wins sparks recruitment drive at Global E&C

Global Engineering and Construction (E&C) is in the midst of a recruitment drive supported by a series of contract wins worth more than £25 million.

Executive director Terry Allan said Global E&C, of Aberdeen, had clinched five contracts for work in the North Sea oil and gas sector since the start of November.

The firm hired more than 20 people in January and is currently advertising about 15 live engineering and project management roles, all onshore.

More opportunities, including offshore, are expected to arise in the coming months at the company, whose parent is Inverness and Granite City-based Global Energy Group (GEG).

Mr Allan said 2020 was “really tough” and that Global E&C felt the “pain” of the drop in oil and gas prices and pandemic “overnight” as brownfield modifications and repair work dried up in the second quarter.

Pre-pandemic, the company employed a total of about 900 people, including contractors, onshore and offshore.

Global E&C had made about 20 full-time staff members redundant by mid-2020 and let go of scores of contractors, reducing its headcount to 700, but the figure since has increased to around 760.

Mr Allan said Global E&C’s offshore activity was “significantly down” on 12 months ago, but was building back up, with good conversations taking place with clients about tackling backlogs.

He said the business finished 2020 “strongly” and that 2021 was “looking good”, affording him a sense of “cautious optimism”.

Mr Allan is encouraged that Global E&C adapted quickly to the crisis and “doubled down” on developing its digital platform, which helps it offer customers a “step change” in cost reductions.

In August, the firm revealed it had reshuffled its north-east facilities footprint and reorganised its structure in an effort to find stability and emerge from the downturn in good shape.

Mr Allan said working-from-home arrangements meant Global E&C hadn’t got the full benefit of shifting its corporate headquarters to Albyn place yet.

But he insisted that the move from Dyce was the right decision and would pay off when the pandemic lifts, permitting staff to thrive in the “collaborative spaces” at the new digs.

Mr Allan said: “I’m optimistic because we’ve shown we are resilient and can react to the market as it flexes. We are stronger now than we’ve ever been.

“The contracts are a result of the hard yards we put in last year. It is so difficult to win work in this market. You need to show you are relevant, and we are.”

Mr Allan did stress that the worsening of the pandemic during winter and the difficulty of predicting the pace of recovery meant Global E&C would still need to be agile.

Global E&C and its peers will be hoping that the Forties pipeline shutdown goes ahead as planned in May-June, as part of Ineos’ £500m project to improve the system.

Many operators are expected to use the window to carry out maintenance and repair work on their platforms, which would give the oilfield service sector a “shot in the arm”, Mr Allan said.

Global E&C expects to be supporting eight assets, operated by the likes of Apache, CNR and Serica, during the shutdown window.

Mr Allan also said conversations with oil and gas firms about the energy transition were a lot more “advanced” and took place more frequently than before the pandemic.

He said Global E&C’s near term objectives were to help customers cut flaring and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from older assets by optimising or replacing equipment.

Global E&C is also in the early stages of helping operators assess whether it would be commercially viable to power their platforms with electricity from green energy sources, such as wind farms, located onshore or offshore.

Mr Allan said he was excited by GEG’s recent appointment of Tim Cornelius as chief executive.

He said Mr Cornelius, who used to lead Simec Atlantis Energy, which operates the MeyGen tidal array in the Pentland Firth, boasted a wealth of experience in the energy sector and would play a “crucial role” in setting the group’s strategy.