Around the World in 80 Trades: Ecosse Subsea Systems

Around the World in 80 Trades: Ecosse Subsea Systems

Subsea engineering consultancy Ecosse Subsea Systems finds that their products can be developed and used anywhere in the world. They have stumbled on challenges around negotiations but have found support to help them through.

What does your company do?

Ecosse Subsea Systems (ESS) is a subsea technology, equipment hire and offshore engineering consultancy specialising in oil and gas, offshore wind, wave and tidal industries

ESS designs, develops, builds, hires and operates a range of subsea equipment; our technologies cover trenching, seabed preparation and clearance, pipe-lay systems, spoolbases and ambient lifting as well as offering personnel and bespoke engineering consultancy support. Our services are flexible and can be combined and tailored to your specific project requirements.

When was your company launched, who by and why?

Mike Wilson is the founder and managing director of Ecosse Subsea Systems Limited. With years of experience in subsea operations Mike launched the company in 1996. Mike is an innovator who enjoys developing new products and services that address subsea challenges.

How long has the company been exporting?

ESS first exported the SCAR Seabed System in Germany in 2013 on the Baltic II Offshore Wind Farm.

What do you currently export, and where to?

Ecosse Subsea Systems currently export their modular SCAR Seabed System. SCAR is an innovative solution to the subsea product installation challenge. By adapting a common basic chassis, SCAR can be configured to perform a variety of functions, namely: Soils Testing; Route Preparation/Boulder Clearing; Trenching – Pre-Cut (multi-pass capable), Post-Lay, Simultaneous Lay; Backfill. SCAR is typically mobilised to a standard AHTS tow vessel and is deployed over the stern roller, negating the need for a heavy A-Frame or crane and significantly increasing working weather limitations.

SCAR can complete the entire trenching Scope of Work (route preparation, trenching and backfill) using one contractor in one mobilisation, leading to significant reductions in risk and cost, as well as marked improvements in time efficiency. To date SCAR has executed boulder clearance and trenching on hundreds of kilometres of pipeline and cable routes, completing well over 500 passes in the process.

ESS’s SCAR Seabed System has currently been exported in UK Waters (for Danish & German Contractors), and to Germany (Baltic Seas) & Denmark.

What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?

ESS started exporting due to growth in market size in international segments and due to the requirements of our clients to service their international developments.

What is the easiest part of exporting?

ESS tools and services we offer can operate in any country, therefore the barriers to entry that many face do not exist for Ecosse. Our tool can be manufactured in any country should our clients require. We can also use local vessel, ROV and survey companies or use our own should our clients require, which makes us extremely versatile when operating overseas, and our ability to tailor our approach has enabled us to win many clients both internationally and within the UK.

And the most challenging part?

The biggest challenge in doing business internationally is the cost implication of resourcing the export drive and the risk of time and effort being diverted from the core business and current markets.

Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges ESS face is negotiating contracts, as many are governed by international laws and different ways of working. Negotiations can be interesting, as sometimes language barriers and negotiating techniques differ hugely between the nations. ESS has overcome them by ensuring that its team are very good at relationship building, we have also employed a lawyer with support from Scottish Enterprise funding that assists us with these negotiations.

Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?

ESS fully utilise organisations such as Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise & the Department of International Trade, the business leverages these relationship to build a global network. These organisations also provide financial support to attend events, and allow ESS to have a presence. ESS have received funding through Scottish Enterprise.

ESS' business development team also uses events to meet people from the wider supply chain who can help us to consider innovative solutions which we can consider for project execution. ESS take as many opportunities as we can to present at events, building awareness of the company's innovation, and performance track record.

What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?

Advice ESS would give would be to research target markets thoroughly, invest in visits to the market to build relationships, & don’t assume that your domestic business model will suffice.

Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years’ time?

Ecosse Subsea Systems' commercial director Keith McDermott shall continue to pursue new business opportunities for Ecosse in the Asian and US renewables and oil and gas sectors.

Ecosse Subsea Systems have been shortlisted in the Export Team of the Year category at the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2017 in association with Scottish Enterprise. Join us on 22 March to celebrate international trade across Scotland.