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Aquaterra boss says multi-million dollar investment from EV Private Equity marks end of “difficult period”

PUBLISHED: 13:56 27 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:56 27 July 2017

The Sea Swift was installed in 23-metre deep water and from design to installation took 18 months to complete. Picture: Aquaterra.

The Sea Swift was installed in 23-metre deep water and from design to installation took 18 months to complete. Picture: Aquaterra.

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A private equity firm is placing a multi-million pound vote of confidence in the East Anglian energy industry.

In a deal with EV Private Equity, offshore engineering firm Aquaterra is set to receive between $10m and $40m (£7.7m to £30.8m) to expand its services and explore new technologies.

The investment in the Norwich-based company is the first deal agreed as part of EV’s pledge to invest $200m in fast-growing and technologically advanced North Sea businesses.

Aquaterra recently designed, fabricated and installed a new Sea Swift platform for PICO Petroleum Integrated Services in the Gulf of Suez.

Its WellStart service, which gives economic and technical advice to companies in the first stages of well construction, is also attracting interest.

Managing director George Morrison said the company, which reported turnover of £22.8m in 2015, was “in the sweet spot” of where EV wanted to invest and had “a lot of ideas”.

“This is exciting for us and our staff,” he said. “We have had a difficult couple of years dealing with the slow-down in the oil industry and it feels like a really good full stop at the end of what has been a difficult period.”

Mr Morrison said the funds will be used to improve and expand the company’s product line as well as to support business growth – not just organically, but with complementary acquisitions “to help us become a more rounded company”.

Aquaterra’s field development solutions – including Sea Swift and WellStart – will be one target for investment, along with exploring new international markets. But Mr Morrison said this cash injection could just be the start. “We have got the initial investment and interest, and that gives us a platform to access the funds to keep investing. We have got an opportunity to build us into the company that there is real need and real potential for us to become,” he said.

Aquaterra has operations in Aberdeen and Cairo alongside its headquarters on Alkmaar Way near Norwich Airport, with all but one of its 64 employees based in Norfolk.

Tomas Hvamb, investment director at EV, said: “We believe that the company’s core offering, providing net lower cost solutions, resonates in today’s capital constrained market.”

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