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Ex-Petrofac CEO leads deal for Scots offshore specialist

Ayman Asfari and Jim Bell

A global offshore energy specialist, based in Livingston, has been acquired by a company led by an oil industry veteran who aims to create a global services champion.

Former Petrofac chief executive Ayman Asfari and a group of energy sector heavyweights have formed a new global offshore wind services outfit, Venterra.

They have acquired FoundOcean, which provides structural grouting services for offshore energy construction.

FoundOcean, which also has a base in Houston, Texas, has developed over half a century into the world’s largest dedicated offshore construction grouting company. It has delivered more grouted connections than any other contractor – from the North Sea to the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Thailand.

Venterra has also acquired Northumberland-based subsea engineering and offshore technology firm, Osbit and Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions (GDG), an Irish geotechnical engineering specialist.

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The member companies cover the entire windfarm lifecycle, from planning and development, installation and build, through to operations, maintenance and lifetime extension.

With renewables expected to provide 90% of the growth in global electricity demand, offshore wind power is set to increase seven-fold – from 33GW in 2020 to an estimated 250GW by 2030.

Venterra has assembled a board and management team with a business plan to invest around £250m. 

It intends to seek a public listing for its shares to maintain its growth trajectory in due course.

Mr Asfari as executive chairman, is joined by ex-Petrofac energy services chief operating officer Rob Jewkes as chief executive and former Centrica man Ivan Ronald as chief financial officer.

BP veteran Vivienne Cox and Tove Feld, who has worked at both Orsted and Siemens, join as non-executive directors.

Mr Asfari said: “Offshore wind energy is growing fast around the world and is essential to the global energy transition.  

“But there is a supply chain  crunch – the services industry supporting wind is highly fragmented and needs greater scale and additional capital to meet soaring demand from governments and developers with ambitious renewable energy commitments.

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“Venterra has been created to help meet this challenge.  We are bringing together companies with the right experience and specialist skills and providing them with funding and support to create a services champion with the scale and breadth required by the market.  

“This will require us to develop talent and adapt existing engineering and technical skills to create a highly specialised global workforce helping deliver the energy transition.

“We aim to create a new force in the offshore wind industry which will be a world class industrial company.”  

Jim Bell, managing director of FoundOcean, joined the company in 2005. He said: “Venterra absolutely shares our vision at FoundOcean, helping the world’s energy transition through wind power.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved and we very much look forward to working with the other member companies. Together, we will have a strong presence in the renewables sector with our excellent services offering.

“Venterra’s aim of building a global offshore renewables group of complementary and like-minded businesses fits perfectly with the vision of our FoundOcean leadership team.

“We are all very excited about the support Venterra will provide in enabling FoundOcean to grow further and achieve more than we could by ourselves.”



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