Press and Journal Energy Supplement, January 2014
Optimus builds architectural expertise into structural team
The firm believe this will help boost its competitiveness in the structural field.
Press and Journal, January 2014
Optimus grows big in Bangkok
The firm now hopes to expand its reach into Japan and Indonesia just three years after establishing its business in Thailand.
Energy North, Autumn 2013
Industry Leaders Profile – Ian Bell
Ian Bell offers his perspective on the highs and lows of doing business across the north of Scotland.
Press and Journal Energy Supplement, September 2013
Optimus nimbly tackling small modification challenges
The firm has developed a strong track record in solving thorny issues that are often deemed costly and timely to resolve, but that could have serious consequences.
Executive, September 2013
Optimus lays firm foundations in the Highlands
Optimus remains firmly on the recruitment drive and plans to take on another five engineers and three trainees in the coming year as it grows the office into a centre of excellence for piping and drafting services.
Inverness Courier, September 2013
Going for growth with new trainees
The company intends to take on three more local trainees in the coming year.
Business Excellence, May 2013
Dedicated to decommissioning
Few companies can provide a dedicated team-led approach to decommissioning like Optimus.
The company has built up a select team of specialists with all of the relevant skills necessary to provide support throughout the decommissioning process.
Press & Journal, April 2013
Optimus – helping energy firms to gain insight
Optimus’ business improvement group facilitates decision-making and risk identification through workshop sessions and a range of qualitative and quantitative techniques.
Press & Journal, December 2012
Staying on top of safety is a relentless challenge
Oil and gas engineering consultancy Optimus has experienced strong demand for its safety services this year and sees this clamour continuing well into 2013, creating an ideal opportunity to develop its client base.
Head of safety, Jerry Lane, is confident of being able to add to the company’s current 10-strong team of experienced safety professionals, even though there is strong competition for the available talent pool.
Press & Journal, October 2012
Proving engineering isn't just for men
Optimus is proving that oil and gas engineering isn't a man's world with its latest influx of graduates. The consultancy has taken on two female graduates and offered a job to a third chemical engineering student for when she graduates next summer.
Ciara Mulligan, 25, started work at the oil and gas engineering consultancy as a graduate structural engineer on October 1, while Abigail Mshelbwala, 24, also recently joined the ranks as a graduate process engineer.
They are paving the way for Francine Chidi. She has been offered a job with Optimus after she graduates fro Edinburgh University next year following a successful chemical engineering work experience placement the 23-year-old undertook with the firm from June to August.
The trio will follow in the footsteps of Louise Watson, 23 ,a civil engineering graduate who joined the firm in January as a graduate structural engineer.
Press & Journal, September 2012
Optimus playing long game
The north-east company, which provides oil and gas engineering, safety and project-management services, turned over £4.7million during the period, up 15% from the £4.1million reported 12 months earlier. Optimus said pre-tax profits for the latest period came in at £256,000, 28% down on the £354,000 notched up a year earlier, however, after a significant investment in its future.
The firm boosted its workforce from 70 to 82 during the first half of 2012 and aims to employ 100 people by the year-end.
It recently launched an office in Inverness to tap into the engineering skill base in the Highlands.
Six engineers and support staff were hired for the Inverness office and Optimus expects this to increase to 20 by spring.
Founder and director Ian Bell said: "Building a credible engineering house is not plain sailing but we're doing exactly what we said we'd do, sacrificing short term profits to fund longterm growth."
Fellow director Alasdair Reid said: "Our office in Thailand is beginning to bear fruit and we see expansion there during the second half of 2012 and it really establishing itself in 2013.
"We're also exploring opportunities in China, Brazil and North Africa."
Optimus said it was on track to meet its year-end targets for turnover of £11.6million and pre-tax profits of £850,000, compared with £10.5million and £900,000 respectively in 2011.
The Scotsman, September 2012
Optimus opts for growth over profits
The company posted a profit of £256,000 for the six months to 30 June, down from £354,000, despite turnover rising by 45 per cent to £4.7 million.
Optimus, which lists Edinburgh-based driller Melrose Resources among its clients, opened an office in Inverness in May and is on course to have 100 staff by the end of the year. Founder Ian Bell said he is "sacrificing short-term profits to fund long-term growth".
Press & Journal Energy Supplement, August 2012
Standard 'template' set to simplify North Sea decommissioning
Securing approval for decommissioning programmes in the North Sea has apparently become more transparent, quicker and less costly thanks to a new standard template devised by a group of industry experts.
The standard decommissioning programme workgroup, set up by Decom North Sea (DNS), has devised a template that operators can use to seek approval for decommissioning work.
The workgroup has been developing the template since January this year and will feed directly into revised Department of Energy & Climate Change guidelines.
Press & Journal, July 2012
Optimus move paying off
The firm said yesterday it had secured £500,000-worth of decommissioning work as part of new contracts totalling more than £1.6million during June alone.
Its new business is called Optimus Decom.
Ian Bell, the Optimus group's founder and director, said: "June has been our best month on record during our 13-year history and is testament to the continued strong expansion of our consultancy."
Press & Journal, May 2012
Optimus boost for city
The firm expects to move into a site in the city centre which had the potential to accommodate upto 50 staff this summer. Founder and director Ian Bell said Optimus wanted to open an office
in the north to tap into the skills base in the area.
He said: "The oil and gas business is international and a significant number of skilled and experienced engineers based in the Highlands travel to where the work is on a weekly basis –
Aberdeen, London, Stavanger and across the world. Getting resources to do work in Aberdeen is getting tougher and tougher so we need to do something smarter to recruit them.
Inverness Courier, May 2012
New city office aims to keep skills 'at home'
Optimus hopes to attract skilled engineers who live in the area but who currently have to commute to Aberdeen during the week.
In the medium term it also envisages bidding for contracts emerging from the reopened
Nigg fabrication yard, the possible redevelopment of the Ardersier yard and ongoing oil and gas activities at Invergordon.
Press & Journal Energy Supplement, April 2012
Optimus taking canny structural approach to ambitious growth
Aberdeen-based oil and gas engineering consultancy Optimus is poised for further significant growth following last year's decision to strengthen its structural engineering division.
The division was set up in March 2009 as a key element of a plan to diversify and further build the company, which started out a decade earlier as a process and safety engineering specialist.
In just two years since the new unit was started, lead structural engineer Alan Smith has built an expertise in green- and brownfield structural projects, including platform jackets, risers/caissons and topsides, process decks and accommodation modules.
Press & Journal, February 2012
Consultant 'on course for stellar year'
The north-east firm made pre-tax profits of £1.1million last year, well in excess of the £435,000 achieved in 2010, and turnover nearly doubled to £10.7million.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and accruals in the latest period totalled £1.18million, up from £515,000 previously.
Press & Journal, January 2012
Booming order book for Optimus
The Aberdeen-based business said it had a forward order book of nearly £1million with clients including ConocoPhillips, BP, Centrica and Maersk. Optimus also completed its move to bigger headquarters yesterday, which will allow it to double its workforce.
Director Ian Bell said: "Our decision to grow our structural engineering last year is paying dividends, with the number of structural jobs continuing to rise. Our dedicated decommissioning division, also launched last year, is further adding to contract wins."
The company also said it had signed its fifth deal in five years with Edinburgh-based Melrose Resources. Optimus has already designed a refrigeration package for Melrose's West Dikirnis development in Egypt, and said it would now work on the implementation phase.
Optimus's 71 employees were spread between Queen's Gardens and Albert Street, but the company is now based in Osborne House, Carden Place. Mr Bell said Optimus had previously operated from part of Osborne House, but moved out three years ago as the company grew. He said: "The only thing that has been restricting us is lack of space, and we are delighted to be moving back to Osborne House. The site is capable of being expanded to accommodate a team of 150, which would double our current capacity."
Optimus also said it hoped to report turnover of £8.55million from last year, up 50% on the 2010 figure.
Press & Journal, November 2011
Optimus staff to share first dividend payout
All 20 shareholders, including 16 staff and four directors of oil and gas engineering consultant Optimus (Aberdeen), which launched the projects business in March 2010 will share a full year dividend pot of around £75,000.
The half-year dividend was set at 3p per share and the shareholders are expected to receive 4.5p per 50p share, a return of 9%, for the whole of 2011.
Director Ian Bell said: "We're delighted that our staff are receiving a great return on their investment already. The share offer was really popular among our team, with half of our headcount then taking it up."
Optimus Projects made losses of £87,000 in the nine months to December 31, 2010, but has since moved into the black, notching up pre-tax profits of £200,000 in the year to date on turnover of £1.9million.
Headed by director Karl Green, it was established to undertake small to medium sized engineering projects worth £50,000 to £1million.
Optimus Projects and Optimus (Aberdeen), which provides process and facility engineering, safety and project- management services, jointly turned over £4.1million in the six months to June 30, 2011, up 37% on the same period last year. Profits rose to £354,000, from £311,000, on tighter margins.
Bosses are aiming for £8.55million turnover in 2011, which would be a 50% rise on the £5.7million seen last year. The group's workforce has mushroomed to 71, from 46 at the start of the year, and the figure is expected to grow to 150 by next summer.
Press & Journal, September 2011
Optimus recruits its biggest intake of graduates
It has taken on five university graduates and one college leaver. Five of them are being added to its 69-strong Aberdeen workforce, while a graduate of Chulalongkorn University joins its office in Thailand â€“ taking staff numbers there to three.
The move comes as the first graduate Optimus took on, Mary Shepherd, attains chartered status from the Institute of Chemical Engineers and is promoted to senior process engineer.
The 26-year-old joined Optimus five years ago after gaining a masters in chemical engineering at Heriot- Watt University, Edinburgh. She has returned recently from a month-long stint in Thailand when she helped to coach graduate trainee Satavee Summapo, 22, who studied chemical engineering and joined Optimus in April. "I've always been interested in science,maths and making things," said Miss Shepherd. "Process engineering allows me to follow my interests every day. "At Optimus, I've been exposed to a more wide and varied range of work at an earlier stage in my career than I may have done with a regimented training path or in a larger company. Due to the varied range of work I've been involved in, getting the relevant experience to become chartered was much easier."
Gary Kemp, who turned to the energy industry for work amid the downturn in construction, is among the new Aberdeen graduates that Optimus has hired. The 34-year-old, who studied construction, design and management at the Robert Gordon University, is now a projects co-ordinator at Optimus. "When I started university, the construction industry was still booming, but that wasn't the case when I graduated this summer," he said. "I always wanted to follow a path that might lead to project management, and it's great that Optimus has given me this opportunity. In the future, I hope to be given more responsibility and become part of more projects."
Ian Bell, founder and director of Optimus, said the company felt it had a "duty of care". "We want to give youngsters coming into the industry the opportunity to get started, and we're passionate about mentoring them," he said. "We also want to ensure we address the issue of succession planning. Our workforce is big on experience and we have to make sure we have good people coming in behind them."
Oil Online, August 2011
Optimus primed for Thai transformation
Optimus Aberdeen, a UK-based oil and gas engineering consultancy, is looking to rapidly expand in the Pacific Rim, beginning with the recently established Optimus Oil & Gas Engineering office in Bangkok, headed by David Morton, director of oil and gas engineering.
Optimus aims to leverage its North Sea experience to offer mature consultancy support, something the company considers as lacking in Thailand, which is particularly attractive as it is a well established oil and gas province, first gas having been produced from the Erawan field in 1981. The company sees extensive upside for their expertise in process and facility engineering, safety and project management services, gained since its founding in 1999.
Read the complete article here.
The Scotsman, August 2011
Turnover leaps ahead at Optimus
Optimus, the Aberdeen-based oil and gas engineering consultancy, will today report a 37 per cent jump in first-half turnover after moving into decommissioning and structural work.
Revenues rose to £4.1 million in the six month to 30 June, triggering an expansion of the firm's workforce from 46 to 65, with staff numbers expected to reach 150 by next summer. Pre-tax profits rose to £354,000 from £311,000, but margins were squeezed, down to 8.5 per cent from 10 per cent.
Optimus now expects to improve its full-year turnover by 50 per cent to £8.6m, with profits forecast to expand at a similar rate.
Ian Bell, who founded the company in 1999, said: "We've increased our turnover and profits targets, but net margins have fallen as a result of increased costs. The labour market has tightened but there's not been a corresponding acceptance by the major operators to reflect this."
Optimus said that about one-third of its work comes from Edinburgh-based oil and gas explorer Melrose Resources.
Offshore Engineer, August 2011
Prospects and pitfalls
Time is running short for a collaborative and cost-efficient approach to decommissioning, believes Optimus consultant Stuart Heggie.
Perhaps understandably, governments and operators have put off decommissioning as much as possible. However, given the inevitable wave of decommissioning over the next 30 years and following the results of a recent liability review Optimus Projects
carried out on 30 North Sea installations, I believe it is imperative that we draw a
line under the past and collaboratively prepare for the inescapable future.
In the North Sea alone, the status quo is widely understood: around 460 installations, over 10,000km of pipeline and 10,000 wells are set to be decommissioned over the next three decades. Around £1 billion is expected to be spent annually in the UK North Sea by 2015. With just 7% of the anticipated work having been completed to date, the opportunities for the supply chain are immense.
Press & Journal, June 2011
Fine forecast for Scots firm with Pacific Rim ambitions
Thailand satellite already outgrowing its Bangkok offices
Six months after setting up a satellite office in Thailand, Aberdeen-headquartered oil & gas engineering consultancy Optimus is already looking for larger premises in Bangkok in order to cope with growth.
The firm told Energy that its Pacific Rim operation was on track to turn over £1million for 2011, and that its headcount is expected to climb to around 30 by the middle of next year, versus a team of three at present.
Optimus director, Alasdair Reid, said that Thailand is a well-established oil & gas province, having achieved first gas production from the Erawan field in 1981. However, he said there was a need for mature consultancies with the kind of track record that working in the North Sea imbues.
"Most engineering is provided by major contractors locally with consultancy provided from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Perth, so there's a huge opportunity to provide an experienced, locally-based consultancy drawing on our track record here in the North Sea," said Reid.
"We have a well-proven model here in Aberdeen which has been very well received in Bangkok."
The consultancy's 60-strong Aberdeen team is helping Optimus Oil & Gas Engineering (OGE) in Thailand by providing specialist engineering and back office support. This approach is commonplace among UK firms with a North Sea heritage which are seeking to internationalise.
"The working relationship we have between the two offices allows us to work together to support the Bangkok team and ensure they have access to all the skills we have in Aberdeen," said Reid.
The plan is for the Bangkok office to develop a client base in Vietnam, Myanmar and other Pacific Rim countries, plus India and Pakistan.
David Morton, who heads Optimus' Bangkok operation and has direct experience of working in the region through the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, said: "We're exporting our Aberdeen model to Thailand, where it's receiving a very warm reception and is already working well.
"The potential is huge, and we've felt confident enough to recruit both engineering and administration staff and are moving to larger premises in early June. We'll be recruiting further in the coming months."
There are currently more than 250 oil & gas platforms and about 3,000km of subsea pipelines offshore Thailand. The number of facilities is expected to increase dramatically in the near future, according to the UK Trade & Investment Sector briefing Oil & Gas Opportunities in Thailand 2010.
State-controlled PTTEP and international oil company partners are looking to boost domestic oil and gas volumes, but with consumption expected to increase by up to 2% per year between now and 2015, substantial imports will still be required to meet demand.
The $3billion Platong Gas II project is due to provide 330million cu. ft per day of additional supplies later this year; the 1trillion cu. ft Bongkot South development is due onstream next year (2012); while at Bongkot North, the Phase 3H project is part of a continuing phased development that will allow the 20-year-old field to continue for a further decade at least.
"So there are significant opportunities to apply the mature asset thinking developed in the North Sea to maximise production and recovery from aging assets," added Morton.
Press & Journal, February 2011
Optimus founder throws down gauntlet to energy industry
Ian Bell, founder and director of Optimus, the oil and gas engineering consultancy, wants to throw down the gauntlet to the North Sea energy industry to become leaner – or shorten its lifespan. Professor Alex Kemp, one of the world's leading energy economists, said earlier this year that the future looks bright for the North Sea region, as long as oil and gas prices remain at currently robust levels. Optimus director Ian Bell has a different take, “While some big contractors are licking their lips at the prospect of investment fuelled by the current high oil price we have to look beyond that old equation of peaks and troughs and focus on efficiency to keep this area competitive in the long term. A high oil price is obviously a boon for the industry but it is not an excuse for inefficiency”.
Kemp and Stephen also said: “In the low price case ($50/30p in real terms) investment and production fall very sharply throughout the study period to 2041. “Only 45 fields would remain in production in 2041, compared to nearly 300 in 2009.
“If that is the case then as a producing region we need to do things more cost effectively if we want to keep more than 45 fields producing”, For Bell the solution for this is simple, “We need to work smarter and cheaper, while maintaining safety, to increase recovery. Certain jobs aren’t getting done because of the costs involved.” “Large admin costs are killing projects”, “What we need is common-sense engineering,” says Bell. “We need to work safely and efficiently, not safely and inefficiently.”, “For example, too often safety regimes and procedures that may add some value on a large scale projects when applied to smaller jobs mean that they cannot be economically justified”.
In the short term we are likely to see oil at $100+ per bbl. But North Africa and the Middle East begin to settle down (and the interruption to world oil movements has so far been negligible at around 1%) next year, and with the prospect of Iraqi fields coming on-stream there is every chance that the price will start to tumble back towards the $50 mark. “On the other hand if the oil price remains high then efficiently completing projects will allow us to make the region more attractive to operators”
Optimus launched Optimus Projects to undertake small-to-medium sized projects, worth £50,000 to £1 million and this week has been awarded two projects with a total value of circa £0.75 million. Ian Bell said that over the past year we have been told by many that there is a real need for someone to be able to do small brownfield engineering work at a price that can be justified. We have assembled this blend of experience and enthusiasm to meet this need.
“To us the message is clear, there are great opportunities for companies that want to make projects affordable for operators in the North Sea again”, Says Bell, “ The major contractors seem unwilling or unable to do that and that’s where Optimus Projects comes in.”
Optimus set for major expansion after strong 2010
100 new jobs for Aberdeen
New subsidiary designed to cut project costs
Expansion into Thailand
Profits projected to grow by 50%
Optimus (Aberdeen), the oil and gas engineering consultancy, is poised for an expansion drive that will see it triple its UK workforce in the next 18 months.
The Aberdeen-based business plans to create 100 new jobs to take its workforce in the Granite City to around 150.
The expansion plans follow a strong year for Optimus, which had just five staff four years ago and now boasts a workforce of 46. It grew turnover by almost 12% in 2010 and maintained profits while investing in two new operations and contending with a flat energy services market.
Optimus, which provides process engineering, facility engineering, safety and project management services, launched Optimus Projects in March 2010 with the appointment of Karl Green as its director. The subsidiary is 50% owned by Optimus (Aberdeen) and 50% by the parent company’s workforce, which have shown their confidence and commitment by buying equity in the new firm.
Optimus Projects has been established to undertake small-to-medium sized projects, worth £50,000 to £1 million, with lower overheads than those currently applied by major contractors.
Optimus also launched an office in Thailand in October last year, where it hopes to create 30 jobs over the next 18 months. The Bangkok operation, fronted by David Morton, aims to help Optimus grow its presence in the Far East market. The bases in Bulgaria and Bangkok enable Optimus to allow clients in Aberdeen to reap the benefits of lower cost engineering.
Optimus turned over £5.7 million in the year to 31 December 2010, up 11.8% on the previous year’s figure of £5.1 million. It aims to increase turnover by 50% during 2011, with a corresponding rise in profits.
To facilitate its expansion, Optimus is in the process of securing larger office premises in the west end of Aberdeen, and plans to move from its current Queens Gardens location in the next few months.
Director Ian Bell said: “We’ve had an exciting 2010 despite it being a tough market, and are set for major expansion this year.
“Our two new ventures – Optimus Projects in Aberdeen and Optimus Oil & Gas Engineering in Bangkok – are expected to create more work here in Aberdeen for good engineering and technical people.
“Optimus Projects will enable small-to-medium sized projects to be undertaken with leaner teams and lower overheads than the industry has become accustomed to.
“We’re looking to bring to Aberdeen the success that we’ve recently had in Egypt, where engineering costs amounted to 10% of the overall project cost. Just now in Aberdeen engineering costs often account for 25% of costs, so operators who enlist our help could potentially cut costs by 15%. That’s quite a sizable reduction.”
Fellow Optimus director Alasdair Reid said: “Bangkok is a well-established oil and gas province, but it’s not serviced at all by mature consultancies with North Sea experience. Most of the support comes from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore or Perth, so we see a huge opportunity to provide an experienced locally based consultancy drawing on our track record here in the North Sea”.
“We have a well-proven model here in Aberdeen, which has been very well received in Bangkok.”
Optimus has been involved in projects throughout the world since its inception in 1999. During 2010, it worked in Egypt’s Nile Delta, the Romanian and Bulgarian sectors of the Black Sea, as well as Newfoundland, Canada, North and West Africa and all sectors of the North Sea. It has a joint venture, Optimus Engineering, in Varna, Bulgaria providing detailed engineering and processing skid fabrication.