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Baker Hughes Boss Stresses Valuable Role of Montrose Base

A boss at US-based energy technology giant Baker Hughes has highlighted the continuing importance of its major Angus operation.

The group currently employs more than 500 people at its subsea centre of excellence in Montrose.

Baker Hughes, which has its headquarters in Houston, Texas, develops and deploys advanced technologies to serve energy and industrial companies around the world.

It operates two sites in Montrose – at Charleton Road and Forties Industrial Estate on Brent Avenue.

They are involved in engineering, manufacturing, test and assembly and services, as well as research and development.

The operation in the town was transformed in 2019 through a £31 million investment by Baker Hughes, supported by a £4.9 million grant from the Scottish Government through Scottish Enterprise.

The subsea centre of excellence benefits from advanced manufacturing tools and processes designed to improve efficiency and productivity.

Romain Chambault, European region leader for Baker Hughes, said: “Montrose is important to us for multiple reasons.  The energy industry is one of Scotland’s leading sectors, so it’s crucial for us to have a footprint here.

“The industry is changing before our eyes and Facilities like Montrose allow us to continue to invent and produce necessary technologies and solutions for customers more efficiently and at an accelerated pace.

“The pressing need to tackle climate change presents challenges, but also significant opportunities for the oil and gas sector.

“Baker Hughes’ technology is well-placed to support the development of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) in the UK and around the world.

“Baker Hughes is working closely with the UK and Scottish governments to support the deployment of CCUS at industrial clusters through the 2020s.

“There is a real value with UK manufactured content – such as can be provide by the Montrose centre of excellence – as CCUS is deployed to secure jobs in this country and create export opportunities for UK firms.

“Our Scottish manufacturing footprint is well-placed to deliver CCUS projects.  For example, subsea trees manufactured by Baker Hughes in Montrose were used in first subsea CO, injection system for dedicated commercial storage – the Snohvit CCUS project in Norway.

“We’ve also committed to being actively involved in developing the next generation of the workforce through a series of investments and trainings that will directly support the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programme at local schools in the region.”

Many companies in the oil and sector have had to tighten their belts in recent years due to adverse factors including the slump in the price of crude and the spread of Covid-19, and Baker Hughes is no exception.

The group’s Montrose operation was in the news earlier this year when it emerged that redundancies were being planned.

The business has not confirmed how many jobs have now gone in the town, bit it is thought to be between 80 and 90.

Mr Chambault said the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted Baker Hughes’ operation in Montrose.

He added: “We had to take a good, hard look at the way we were working and adjust accordingly.”

This led to reductions in areas including headcount, hiring activity and the number of contractors employed.

But Mr Chambault said the company remains confident in the long-term prospects of subsea energy production, and is fully committed to maintaining its capabilities.

He added: “We see the subsea market slowly returning in 2022 and 2023 which may help future work volume to the Montrose subsea centre of excellence, our flagship facility, and we intend to stay here.”

Mr Chambault said the North Sea Transition Deal, which was announced in March 2021, was exciting news for Baker Hughes’ UK operations.  The partnership between the UK oil and gas sector and the Government supports the industry’s move to clean, green energy and a secure future for high-skilled oil and gas workers.

Mr Chambault said: “The North Sea Transition Deal will have a positive impact for suppliers that still want to support oil and gas activity while transitioning.  It is pushing activity in the energy transition, which we’re fully aligned with.

“The deal also confirms Government support for the sector, including the supply chain.  It recognises that oil and gas technologies will be needed to deliver the energy transition and deploy CCUS and hydrogen – both of which are central to Baker Hughes’ strategy in new energy frontiers.

“The deal includes a target for UK content in new energy projects, including a target for locally-sourced technology and support for upskilling staff as the industry looks to deliver for the energy transition.  This is exciting news for our UK operations because it supports sustained employment, manufacturing growth and generates real energy-transition expertise.”

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