Support for subsea testing centre of excellence

FM welcomes £2.5m investment

A new centre of excellence for testing emerging technologies in the subsea sector is to be established with support from Scottish Enterprise, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

Balmoral Offshore Engineering, based in Aberdeen, is creating a new open access hyperbaric pressure testing facility for the oil and gas supply chain, and specifically for the subsea sector.

Scottish Enterprise is supporting the project with a £1m research and development grant to the company, which will invest £1.5m in the project. The centre will be available for large companies and SMEs to use.

The project will more than double the capacity of large-scale open access pressure testing vessels from two vessels to five in Scotland.

The First Minister made the announcement ahead of the National Economic Forum in Inverness.

She said: “This specialist facility will allow new products to be developed and existing ones to be tested and improved. This will bring huge benefits in developing and supporting emerging technologies in the oil and gas industry.

“Scotland is a world leader in subsea engineering, already accounting for around 15 per cent of the £50 billion global subsea market and as our Subsea Engineering Action plan has outlined, we want to build on this, supporting companies to grow and ensure we have the class-leading test and research infrastructure needed to meet future needs of a sector that already employs 38,000 in Scotland.

“The Energy Jobs Taskforce has made a strong commitment to supporting higher levels of innovation within the sector and this is a great example of this.

“While it is clear the oil and gas sector faces ongoing challenges, this investment continues to underline the many opportunities that remain in Scotland’s world-class supply chain.

“The fundamentals of Scotland’s economy are strong. We want to create the best environment for doing business anywhere in the UK – because we know that the success of Scotland’s businesses underpins the prosperity and wellbeing of every community in the country.”

The project will create Scotland’s first fully open access ultra-deep water hyperbaric test facility which will enable testing for products that are to be exported to international markets. 

Jim Milne CBE, Chairman and Managing Director, Balmoral Group, said: “We are delighted to have secured this investment from Scottish Enterprise, an organisation we have been collaborating successfully with for many years.

“The establishment of Europe’s leading hyperbaric test centre in Aberdeen further strengthens the city’s position as a centre of excellence for the global subsea industry while also opening up opportunities to work with the renewables and defence sectors.

“With the offshore industry demanding ever-increasing product testing, and as a company with innovation at its core, we are pleased to offer additional capacity for ‘open access’ third party testing.  As well as servicing our customers we particularly look forward to supporting Scotland’s academic institutions with their R&D programmes.

“The Balmoral Subsea Test Centre currently employs 12 people and in addition to safeguarding those positions there is a high probability of adding to this number in the short to medium term.”


In 2014 the subsea sector in Scotland featured over 370 companies with a combined estimated turnover of £7.5bn (15% of the global market) and employment of over 38,000 people. 

The global market for subsea is currently worth around £50bn with an estimated growth potential reaching £140bn by 2035. The ambition is for Scotland to generate £27bn (19%) of the global market turnover in 2035, and the Subsea Engineering Action plan, launched in January 2017, outlined the key actions needed to achieve this.   


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