Epic boss backing products in Great Yarmouth

Dave Rowan, right, managing director and founder of engineering company EPIC International has spent

Dave Rowan, right, managing director and founder of engineering company EPIC International has spent more than half of his budget in Great Yarmouth this month. And he says will only take his money outside if the skills, products or services he needs aren’t available locally. - Credit: Supplied

A Great Yarmouth businessman has invested nearly £1m in local companies so far on his award-winning offshore project and refuses to spend money outside the town unless he has to.

Dave Rowan, managing director and founder of engineering company EPIC International has spent more than half of his budget in Great Yarmouth this month.

And he says will only take his money outside if the skills, products or services he needs aren't available locally.

So far, more than £800,000 has been spent in Great Yarmouth on its Late in Life Operations (LILO) project on a five-well gas North Sea platform, a pioneering model designed by Mr Rowan to mothball the platform, leaving options open to continue production or decommission.

'It is so important for me as a Great Yarmouth business to spend money with other Great Yarmouth businesses to keep the money in the area we work. I hope other companies do the same,' said Mr Rowan.

'In my 15 years running a company in Great Yarmouth, I have always gone local first. I believe in Great Yarmouth and its offshore heritage.

'Times are tough in the North Sea at the moment and it's down to us running businesses here to secure Great Yarmouth's future as England's centre for the oil and gas industry.'

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EPIC International won a hat trick of trophies at the Spirit of Enterprise ceremony at Great Yarmouth Town Hall last Friday, including the Great Engineering Business Award and the Great New Business Idea Award for its LILO model.

'We can't divulge the exact budget, but we can say we have spent more than £800,000 – most of the budget – in Great Yarmouth.'

'We bought all of the solar panels and wind turbines from Sims Systems and helicopters and standby vessels from Scotia and other local companies.

'We have spent about 50pc of the budget so far this month with local companies Oaasis and Survivitec on materials, fabrications and other equipment.'

The operator only went outside Great Yarmouth to buy diving support and a specialist communications system to monitor the platform by satellite in EPIC's Vanguard Road office.

'I will only consider going outside if specialist services aren't available in Great Yarmouth. I wouldn't go outside the area to save money.'

An EPIC crew of 10 people is currently working on the unnamed platform to shut it down. The 15-strong crew used on the project has been employed from Great Yarmouth companies.

'The owner approached us to come up with a model because EPIC had been involved in the commissioning of the platform and for our experience with normally unattended installations.'

With fewer contracts coming up in the North Sea, companies had to be innovative to be competitive, he said.

'I'd like to see Great Yarmouth companies working together to supply skills, products and services across the board from here in Great Yarmouth for contracts, especially in decommissioning.

'It is up to us running businesses in Great Yarmouth to preserve the decades of experience and knowledge here, which will disappear when major service companies leave the town during this downturn.

'But what will happen when the market turns? We don't want to be left with a skills gap here because people have disappeared from the industry.

'Every time a company leaves the town, it can take decades of skills and knowledge with it as well as vital services for the town.

'I have been speaking to some of the smaller operators, they feel there is a need to retain these skills locally.

'We need to keep the knowledge, services and skills here as an investment in the future of Great Yarmouth not to lose those skills just to appease shareholders investments in the short term.'