African vision for Norwich shale gas firm

Francis Neill, cheif executive of Norwich-based technology EV

Francis Neill, cheif executive of Norwich-based technology EV - Credit: Archant

A pioneering technology company capitalising on America's booming shale gas industry is turning its attention to Western Africa as part of on ongoing global expansion.

Norwich-based EV is eyeing opportunities to set-up an office in Equatorial Guinea or Angola to service the region's buoyant energy industry with its robust cameras for oil and gas wells.

The move comes just three months after the firm looked to strengthen its foothold in the Middle East by opening an office in Dubai.

And it said the new offices – coupled with the launch of new products– will give the company the momentum it needs to bolster its turnover from £11m to £16m in the next year.

The firm designs and manufactures downhole cameras in Norwich, which have the ability to provide live streaming footage at the foot of oil and gas wells – despite the extreme heat and intense pressure.

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Francis Neill, chief executive of EV, which launched a new downhole camera in the last two weeks, said America's shale gas industry continues to be a 'significant opportunity' for the company.

But he said it still remains unclear how vital the industry could be for his UK business.

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'We have now opened up in the Middle East,' he said. 'And we are looking to get into Western Africa – it is all about getting our people and equipment in that area.'

'Although we currently work in the US shale gas market, we do not know what is going to happen in the UK,' he added. 'Shale gas requires multiple wells and it is going to need a revolution in the UK because the surface equipment isn't there at the moment.

'But if it does take off, we hope people will look to us because of what we have already managed to achieve in America.

'We think it will take at least five or 10 years before it gets to the levels that we are currently seeing in the states.'

The firm, which uses the cameras to explore or safety-check wells, has 17 bases worldwide and employs 30 people across its manufacturing facility at Whitlingham and its headquarters on Rose Lane.

Currently, 25pc of firm's business is done in the US where its cameras are used in the shale gas industry to identify where water is entering a well. The company spends £2m a year on developing new products.

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