Great Yarmouth business chief urges firms to invest locally to fight the impact of falling oil price

Offshore energy platform. Picture PA.

Offshore energy platform. Picture PA. - Credit: PA

A Great Yarmouth businessman is fighting against the constraints of the falling oil price by refusing to invest money outside of the town.

Dave Rowan, managing director of Great Yarmouth-based EPIC International

Dave Rowan, managing director of Great Yarmouth-based EPIC International - Credit: Archant

Dave Rowan, managing director and founder of engineering company EPIC International, has called for energy sector companies within Yarmouth's supply chain to spend money with each other, in a bid to help the industry weather the storm triggered by the tumbling cost of brent crude.

Mr Rowan has invested nearly £1m in local companies and spent nearly half his budget in Great Yarmouth this month, claiming that he will only take his money outside the region if skills, products and services are not available locally.

Hundreds of jobs have been lost in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft since the oil price collapsed in December last year.

Earlier this week, energy services company 3Sun revealed that it had given its 340 staff the option of taking unpaid leave during the next three months in order to drive down costs and mitigate any further action.

Energy giant Petrofac said it was rolling out a 'reorganisation' project, but the majority of jobs at risk were expected to be in Aberdeen, with 160 employees at its operation in Yarmouth largely unaffected.

'I only spend money outside Great Yarmouth if I absolutely have to,' Mr Rowan said. '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.

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'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.'

He added: 'We can't divulge the exact budget, to abide by our client's wishes, 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.'

With fewer contracts 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.'

Oil prices have fallen to about $38 a barrel, down from $110 a barrel in 2014, while gas prices have dropped to 33p per therm, down from about 50p per therm a year go.

The falling prices have led to a sharp drop in the number of available contracts for the region's supply chain companies.

Do you have a business story for the Eastern Daily Press? Contact business editor Ben Woods on 01603 772426 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk