Sigma Offshore Secures Major Investment from Scottish Venture Fund

Aberdeen-based Sigma Offshore Limited has secured funding totaling £2 million (around US $3.2 million) to further develop its enabling technology for stranded oil reserves.

The engineering and project management company, which has developed a unique mooring and loading system for production and storage vessels servicing the oil and gas sector, has received a £1 million investment from Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Venture Fund. The other half of the new investment has been provided by Energy Ventures, Sigma's original investor and main shareholder.

Alistair Dornan, Chief Executive of Sigma said, "To secure such a major investment in these financially challenging times is a massive achievement for the team and testimony to the potential of the technology. The financial boost will enable us to continue to develop and promote our innovative mooring system while also providing the opportunity to grow our teams in Aberdeen and at strategic locations around the world.

“The North East of Scotland continues to have a major role to play in the development of cutting edge technology for the energy industry and it is fantastic that this importance is being recognised by both the public and private sectors.”

Set up to develop the venture capital market in Scotland, the Scottish Venture Fund in conjunction with the Scottish Government aims to invest £500,000 to £2 million, alongside private sector partners, in company finance deals of between £2 million and £10 million. The Scottish Venture Fund can only consider investment opportunities sponsored by Deal Promoting Partners, for which Energy Ventures had previously qualified.

Greg Herrera, Aberdeen based partner with Energy Ventures, added, “This is our first deal of this type with Scottish Enterprise and the innovative partnership approach is one we would like to build upon.”

Sigma is aiming to become the global independent turret and moorings provider of choice. It has developed a pioneering and cost effective mooring system known as the Smart Mooring System (SMS) that connects oil and gas production and storage ships, called FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) vessels, to subsea wells and pipelines. The novel approach, which sees the system mounted on the bow of the vessel rather than in the hull, is significantly more efficient to install than traditional methods and does not require the vessel to be dry-docked making the solution particularly suited to tanker conversions.

The system has undergone rigorous model testing at the Danish Hydraulic Institute and has received the necessary seal of approval from DNV (Det Norske Veritas) in Norway. The technique will provide a vital solution to tanker owners who have no in-house mooring technology and who want to use an entirely independent turret supplier. In a “low oil world” the system will contribute to keeping field development costs to a minimum and help enable oil pockets not close enough to existing infrastructure to be developed.

Neil Ross, director of the Scottish Venture Fund for Scottish Enterprise commented, “This is an exciting time for the energy industry and we’re seeing a host of new innovation from companies based in Aberdeen and the North East. Energy Ventures, a new investment partner for Scottish Enterprise, has an excellent track record of backing winners in the upstream oil sector and Sigma looks capable of enjoying global success with its Smart Mooring System technology.”

Sigma currently employs 22 people at its headquarters in Aberdeen and is targeting key markets including South East Asia, South America and West and North Africa. Although founded in 2004, the company received its initial technology investment in late 2007 and has a core of experienced engineers who have successfully completed more than 10 FPSO and FSO projects together.

The company strengthened its management team last year with the appointment of former Shell and Genesis man Alistair Dornan as Chief Executive. Operations Director and founder of Sigma Offshore Limited, John Baross, has recently elected to leave his position to allow him to devote more time to other business interests. This is after a distinguished 40 year career culminating in advancing the development of the SMS Technology, securing funding and establishing a high quality management team.

Dornan added: “John’s efforts in taking the company forward are here for all to see and he will continue to make his extensive experience and expertise available to us”.