Clough closes on US portal
Clough is closing in on an acquisition that could provide a gateway to engineering and construction work on LNG projects in the US, chief executive Peter Bennett says.
Mr Bennett said the Perthbased firm hoped to finalise a deal by the end of the calendar year to buy what Clough’s parent Murray & Roberts has described as a small acquisition of a US company.
He said Clough was targeting the midstream and downstream gas processing market, in particular smaller LNG plants with capacity of up to two million tonnes a year.
“(The market’s) not well served in the project size that we’re targeting,” Mr Bennett said on the sidelines of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference yesterday.
“The acquisition’s going to provide us the boots-onthe-ground project delivery capability. But certainly a lot of the technical and project management skillsets of Clough will be supported from Perth and (we’ll) translate those skills over there.”
The engineering company already has a small US presence through LNG consulting subsidiary CH-IV.
The move comes as Clough in Australia has shifted back to infrastructure and mining work as the LNG construction boom ends.
The company last week secured an early works contract with BHP for non-process infrastructure at the proposed South Flank iron ore project in the Pilbara.
Its order book by the end of the first half had fallen to about $400 million, from $520 million a year earlier, as hookup and commissioning work on the Wheatstone and Ichthys LNG projects off the North West wound up.
The company made an operating profit of about $10 million in the half, as tight margins ate up most of about $500 million revenue.
Mr Bennett reported renewed confidence among clients now oil prices had recovered and Woodside Petroleum was looking to develop the Scarborough gas project off Exmouth.
“We do see and feel that we’re at that inflection point now where the market is starting to award projects rather than investigate projects,” he said.
He said LNG prospects were also promising in Papua New Guinea, where Clough has a long-established presence.
Mr Bennett said he did not expect a potential takeover of South Africa’s Murray & Roberts by biggest shareholder ATON of Germany would have any impact on Clough.
“If you look at the ATON business model they’re very much an investment holdings company,” he said.