Bright future for Lowestoft-based SLP following sale as it recruits for 140-man accommodation project

09:18 18 September 2012

The SLP site at Lowestoft Docks.
Photo: Andy Darnell
Copy: Sam Williams
For: EDP
Archant © 2010 (01603) 772434

The SLP site at Lowestoft Docks. Photo: Andy Darnell Copy: Sam Williams For: EDP Archant © 2010 (01603) 772434

Archant © 2010

Jobs at Lowestoft-based SLP Engineering have been secured after Singapore energy giant Sembcorp Marine bought the firm off its parent company which had gone into administration in a £2.5m deal.

The move follows months of uncertainty SLP, which manufactures offshore platforms for the for oil and gas industry, after its Dutch-based parent company Smulders Group went into administration in April, blaming heavy losses on two North Sea wind energy projects.

Ho Nee Sin, managing director of Sembcorp’s wholly owned subsidiary SMOE, said the 4.94m Singapore dollar deal – which includes both the shares and settlement of the intercompany loans of SLP – will give the company a footprint in the UK.

Andrew Thomson, SLP’s business development manager, said that having a very large financial backer put the company in a much stronger position.

He said: “This opens up a lot of opportunities for the organisation and locally in terms of employment.

“There is a lot of synergy between the two companies. It made sense for Sembcorp to look at a company in the UK to establish a foothold in Europe. We needed a very strong backer and they needed a foothold in Europe.”

The 40-year-old company is currently recruiting to create a workforce of more than 300 people after work started on a multi-million pound contract for Nexen Petroleum, which was won last year, for a 140 man accommodation module for their Golden Eagle area development in the North Sea.

Mr Thomson said that as well as already secured contracts, the Sembcorp deal would allow them to bid for projects in the longer term.

SLP was prevented from tendering on many projects while Smulders Group was in administration, but was supported by some of its existing customers.

Mr Thomson said: “We have been very lucky in that we have had support from most of the majors including Centrica and Nexen.

“They have supported us in the short term and in the longer term so we are continuing to get work from them.”

He said he believed they had the support because of SLP’s strong name and because the firm has a long history.

“Companies like SLP are few and far between,” he said.

The new era will also see the development of SLP’s renewables business.

Under Smulders Group ownership, SLP was prevented from developing the renewables business because it had its own European partners, according to Mr Thomson.

He said: “We will be looking at that with a new fervour and enthusiasm.”

Its work in renewables includes supplying offshore substations for wind farms, meteorological weather masts and tidal energy projects.

Mr Thomson added: “There is an awful lot of potential in the UK and Europe as companies are looking to push their windfarms offshore.”

The company will be renamed Sembmarine SLP Limited (Sembmarine SLP) and will be held through newly incorporated company Sembmarine North Sea Limited (Sembmarine North Sea).

Sembmarine North Sea will be 70pc owned by SMOE and 30pc owned by eight members of the SLP management team led by managing director Paul Thomson.

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