Hundreds of people turned up for the chance to take a peak at what goes on in one of Shetland’s most dynamic businesses yesterday.
Folk attending the Ocean Kinetics open day got a guided tour of the business at the Port Business Park. There was also music, free food and drink and face-painting for youngsters. And for those who enjoyed the event, or missed out this time around, Ocean Kinetics plans to hold other open days, or evenings.
According to Ocean Kinetics managing director John Henderson it is a chance for the firm, that has expanded rapidly and opened the £3 million energy-efficient building in 2013, to put something back to the Shetland community.
The firm now has 70 permanent staff and around another 30 working on contract around Shetland. As well as store people, admin staff and accountants, draughtsmen, chartered engineers and the engineering team in Lerwick there are people employed as divers and painters.
Mr Henderson said: “People know who Ocean Kinetics are and have a rough idea of what we do, but we felt it was important for the local community to have a look around and see some of the investments we have made and see some of the good people we have got working here and the nice working conditions and some of the modern machinery we have here. It’s a nice looking building from the front, but nobody really knows what’s going on inside.
“We always like to give a peerie bit back to the community and employ apprentices. We are keen to keep the talent in Shetland and we have got some undergraduates and graduates working here and we are keen to get people coming back from university as well as the apprentices. That’s pretty important.
“It’s nice to have a company in Shetland, I think, that’s doing a job that’s as good as anyone else coming from South. So we are trying to make more of the oil and gas companies aware of what we can do and our capabilities. We see companies coming up from South and we see them on site at Sullom and on the gas pant and we can see we’d be doing a better job more economically, we are not having to ship guys up from the south. If there is a job to be done and there is some delays then we can be a lot more cost effective, especially nowadays with the price of oil being down and everybody looking to make economies.”
Mr Henderson said that he could see plenty of reason for optimism for the industry in future, despite the continuing low oil price. Ocean Kinetics would be working along with the oil companies to try and improve efficiencies and get rid of red tape, where possible.
“But the reason for today is to show them what we can do, that we are a professional company, that has spent a lot of time and money on the building and machinery, but we have probably spent more time and money on the staff, just training them up and making them fit for the jobs that’s up there.
“There are a lot of opportunities for people that is wanting to come and work. We are always looking for talented people with ability. I suppose one of the things is that the people working in Shetland have to tend to wear different caps, so the multi-skilled thing is very important for wis.”
Of course Ocean Kinetics is heavily involved in industries apart from Sullom Voe and the Shetland Gas Plant such as aquaculture, fishing, fish factory fitting and a smaller amount of offshore supply work.
It has even got a contract working on repairing a pier in Antarctica that was damaged by an ice flow. Personnel will be flying out, while the plant is going by boat – two of everything, just in case.
The factory has been fitted with biomass fuelled underfloor heating throughout involving seven miles of underfloor pipe. It has a range of computer controlled cutting and milling machinery that can turn out practically any fitting or part designed in-house or from files received from clients anywhere in the world. Likewise, Ocean Kinetics designs can be sent electronically to a specialised tool shop anywhere on the planet.