Great Yarmouth-based firm diversifies into coastal defences after oil price drop
- Credit: Archant
Dwindling offshore projects due to a falling oil price have led one company to diversify into flood-defence work and coastal protection.
Great Yarmouth-based Subsea Protection Systems (SPS), which produces concrete and rock solutions to protect seabed structures, pipelines and cables in the oil and gas and offshore wind sector, is now helping to delay erosion on a vulnerable stretch of the Norfolk coast.
The company is also in talks about future flood defence projects in Scotland and across the UK as well as more coastal protection work.
Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss visited the site at Scratby, near Great Yarmouth, to inspect the work which started last month after a long campaign for funding by Scratby families and MP Brandon Lewis.
SPS managing director Fred Rogers said the work was part of a bid to look at new markets to plug the gap left by the cut in oil and gas projects.
Oil prices have now tipped to below $30 a barrel, and experts predict they could fall as low as $10 later this year.
Mr Rogers said: 'We looked ahead when indications were clear that offshore would become very quiet and investigated how our expertise and technologies could be used to suit other sectors.
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'This type of work is a good fit for us. By developing new work streams while oil prices remain low means we can continue to develop our business.'
Techniques and solutions to erosion on worldwide offshore projects had been adapted to meet the specifications of the scheme designed by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, he said.
'We are currently researching and developing new products to push forward with coastal and flood protection work. This is a perfect way to adapt what we do for a different market. It is all about diversification, innovation and exploring new ways to use proven expertise in a different setting.'
At Scratby gabions will protect the low dunes, which are a natural buffer from lapping waves.
The scheme is designed to give the community time to adjust to coastal change.
SPS is working with partners, Cromer-based civil engineers Mackinnon Construction, which is carrying out the work designed to protect 35 homes nearest to the cliff edge over a 25-year period and another 100 homes further back at risk for 100 years.
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