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Norwich engineering firm Aquaterra using multi-million pound investment to bolster equipment stock

The Aquaterra Sea Swift platform being installed in Egypt. Picture: Aquaterra.

The Aquaterra Sea Swift platform being installed in Egypt. Picture: Aquaterra.

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An offshore engineering firm which received a multi-million pound private equity injection is investing in a greater stock of specialist equipment to bring materials up from the sea floor.

Aquaterra Energy managing director George Morrison. Picture: Aquaterra. Aquaterra Energy managing director George Morrison. Picture: Aquaterra.

Norwich-based Aquaterra was given between $10m and $40m (£7.5m to £30m) in a deal with EV Private Equity, as part of a $200m investment the group pledged to fast-growing North Sea businesses.

Its managing director George Morrison said some of the investment had been committed to capital expenditure including a new riser system, which allows the transfer of materials from the sea floor to facilities on the surface in an offshore project.

The multimillion pound piece of equipment brings the company’s complement of riser systems up to five.

“We went from having one high-pressure riser system operational in 2010 to having a fleet of four,” said Mr Morrison.

“We have contracts for next year to put four of the riser systems to work which will be a record for us, and we are adding a fifth so we are able to keep offering that out to the market. We have seen a real increase in the use of those systems and that has been a very resilient area in the industry through the downturn in the oil and gas sector.”

Aquaterra plans to carry on with a programme of smaller capital expenditures through 2018, as part of a plan to grow its offering of sale and rental products and mitigate the “constraints” on its current stock.

It is in the recruitment phase for a business development team, with a new marketing manager set to take up the post at the firm’s Alkmaar Way headquarters in January and some other members of the team likely to be based in East Anglia. Mr Morrison said the company was also evaluating opportunities for acquisition, but stressed this was not its primary strategy for growth.

“We have a strong organic growth model but we will look to grow that with strategic acquisitions to help us access new markets in different ways,” he said. “We want to go forward with more people to sell more products to more customers and acquisition will help us move faster.”

Aquaterra reported turnover of £29.1m in 2016, up by more than 25% on the previous year, and made a pre-tax profit of £659,053, compared with a loss of £2.3m in 2015.

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