Mission signals success

Signs of success for last week’s visit by scores of oil and gas companies from the North of England and Scotland came early.

Even before the trip, there were indications this particular mission could not come early enough for member companies.

The number of applicants was far greater than that for which Government grants were on offer, and 35 per cent– mostly small to medium businesses - opted to participate on their own steam.

Mission leader NOF Export director Geoff Race said the Woodside-led NWS joint venture expansion on the $25 billion LNG contract with China, and the Conoco Phillips-operated Bayu Undan project in the Timor Sea, were particular drawcards.

Despite the magnetism of particular and potential projects, the real success of such missions and the concurrent Langley Park AustralAsian oil and gas show is measured in work orders, and early success signs were also evident on this account.

Heavy-lifting specialist Mammoet was in town scouting for regional deals to follow up a contract recently secured with Clough.

The Netherlands-based Mammoet, whose most challenging task to date has been the lifting of the Russian submarine Kursk, conducts an expensive business for heavy industry throughout the world.

But Mammoet engineering and projects manager Léon Schöpping said some WA projects offered appropriate opportunities for the company’s expertise. China also had one of its largest corporations in Perth. Unlike Mammoet, China Petroleum Corporation (Sinopec) affiliate Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau was checking out opportunities to do maiden business here.

Sinopec has operating revenues eight times those of WA and a capital works program four times that of the Government here.

Representatives met with Energy Minister Eric Ripper, and were also keenly welcomed by exhibitors and mission delegates.

Some smaller, but nonetheless no less expansive visitors, were also reporting deals and moves into the region. Aberdeen well engineering company Leading Edge Advantage, secured an agreement with Apache Energy in Perth to conduct a feasibility study with a view to utilising Leading Edge technology on a local project.

The agreement comes just weeks after Leading Edge founder and owner Ian Lusted moved to Perth.

UK-based Victor Products is relocating its Dubai office to Perth.

Victor international director David Ward said he knew of two or three other companies which had made the same move, and was convinced it was a good one.

Subsea front-end engineering specialists Circle Technical Services already has a date for a Perth office opening - May 1.

Circle already has two local work contracts and an agent in O’Connor, but managing director David Dent said Perth was the logical place to open the company’s own low-cost skills base to service the Asian region. "It has fantastic infrastructure and a can-do attitude", Mr Dent said. "People are results-orientated here.

"The market is growing slowly – it’s not a huge market on its own - but there’s also plenty of growth in Malaysia, Indonesia and China."

Australia was not the only target market for British companies, Mr Race and Scottish International senior executive Alan Henderson confirmed.

The Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, Trinidad, and former Soviet Union countries also afforded opportunities.

However, the attraction of UK missions to Australia were underpinned by weather, language, legal system and culture considerations.

"It makes for ease in doing business. We feel at home here," Mr Race said.

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