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Oilennium’s success story in Loddon doubles jobs in two years

11:35 19 September 2014

Kevin Keable(centre), MD of Oilennium, and some of his team(l to r) Jonathan Harvey, special projects manager, Nick Williams, IT manager, Sam O

Kevin Keable(centre), MD of Oilennium, and some of his team(l to r) Jonathan Harvey, special projects manager, Nick Williams, IT manager, Sam O'Hara, general manger, Ian Smith, production manager and Fran Heathorn, creative team manager, at their Loddon HQ where they have developed a niche in providing courses for oil and gas industry - using imagery of computer game quality. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Archant Norfolk.

Kevin Keable has experienced the hands-on, dirty side of the oil industry, working on platforms right around the world and living in such far-flung places as Norway, Bangkok, Singapore and Australia.

However, having started out as apprentice mechanic at George Prior Engineering in Great Yarmouth and worked his way up to the top of the executive tree, he has found a lucrative niche in training courses, skilling up a new generation of oil and gas industry technicians, drillers and other staff.

In the space of 15 years he has developed an enterprise operated out of his study into a company employing 52 people (43 in Norfolk and nine in the US) - double his number of staff just two years ago.

What gives the father-of-two particular pride is that he has grown the business, Oilennium, in a small Broadland town just a few miles from where he went to school in Beccles.

“People are surprised to find a successful business where we are and we have even had post addressed to London rather than Loddon,” he said.

Mr Keable, 51, of Bracon Ash, near Mulbarton, said it was his varied experience - “growing businesses from scratch and developing all the services around the commissioning of platforms and pipelines” - that made him well placed to design training courses.

“Everywhere I went during the 1990s, from Singapore to Australia, I had to hire new people and train them,” he said.

“It was that background that prompted an old colleague to ask me to write a training course for him.”

That led on to further training courses and a move into eLearning - allowing tuition in remote locations - that has become a speciality of Oilennium, which was set up in 2001.

He said: “I started in my study in Southwold, where I was living at the time, and quite quickly moved into offices in Beccles.”

His first employee, Clare Ketteringham, is still with him and Mr Keable is proud that staff turnover has been virtually nil.

Mr Keable is a memory expert, having once memorised the names and numbers of all the beach huts in Southwold in a stunt for Children in Need, and it is his recognition of the importance of using images to remember things that underpins his company’s training courses.

As well as developing bespoke courses, the company has a library of more than 200 generic courses covering everything from health and safety to technical subjects.

While some are designed to be used by instructors, others are delivered through eLearning. And staff have even developed technology that allows eLearning to go ahead in remote locations with little or no internet access.

Oillennium’s growing client base - “at the moment most of our business comes out of Houston but we are beginning to grow the Aberdeen market” - has quickly seen the value of courses using vivid imagery over old-style power-point presentations.

“It enables new staff to get up to speed quickly,” said Mr Keable.

A major landmark in Oilennium’s rise came in 2012 when it was bought by FTSE 100 firm Petrofac.

Mr Keable said: “Turnover in 2014 has reached £5m and we are still looking at good, steady growth.”

Recent successes have included an eLearning contract with the International Well Control Forum, which sets international training standards for well control.

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