The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) : 2019-11-18

THE LUNCH : 76 : 12


12 tnheewlsun­ch THE PRESS AND JOURNAL November 2019 The Lunch HOTEL As the northeast adjusts to life after the oil crash Rebecca Buchan talks to three businessme­n about changing with the times T “It’s used in kids’ nurseries, and we have done it in schools when there has been a norovirus outbreak. One of the things that’s very effective on an offshore installati­on or vessel if there is an outbreak of illness is you can knock it on the head and completely eliminate it before it spreads quickly.” Mr McIntosh said it was very good for the marine sector, especially for hot-water tanks, because it’s effective against Legionella, and you can use it to sterilise a hot-water tank. Also looking to diversify his business, Mr Ferguson said he had recently been asked to give training to staff at P&J Live in order to demonstrat­e he geographic location of Grampian and the Highlands has meant that, for years, the regions have been able to reap the natural benefits of the seas. Centuries ago, the area’s reliance on the coastline began when fishermen in towns like Peterhead and Fraserburg­h establishe­d their firstever working harbours. Hundreds of years later, we still hold our name for collective­ly producing the most white fish in Europe, bringing in millions of pounds to the UK economy annually. But as the decades have passed, new technologi­es have been discovered and new ways to make a living from the North Sea have gradually emerged. Aberdeen’s oil and gas industry took off in the 70s and, since then, an array of occupation­s that make a living from the waters around us have grown. But how did the oil crash affect our support services and what did they do to keep afloat? This month, I decided to sit down with three men in business who all have experience with the marine services. Just a stone’s throw away from Aberdeen Harbour, the newly renovated Station Hotel is the perfect place for hungry seafarers to head for a quick bite to eat. Joining me were Euan McIntosh, General Manager at AMS Global, Malcolm Mackay, a partner at Brodies law firm, and Stephen Ferguson, Training Manager at AquaTerra training. Within a few minutes of chatting, it became evident that things had changed substantia­lly since the downturn. Mr Mackay said he had noticed training services had been badly hit as a result of fewer people being required to go offshore. And as the industry winds down over the next 30 to 40 years, it appears to have a shelf-life. However new opportunit­ies are emerging all the time in industries such as decommissi­oning and floating offshore wind, which will allow skills that have been used over the years to be redeployed. However some firms have had to start looking at completely different markets altogether. Mr McIntosh said that his firm has recently invested in a product called Sanondaf, a disinfecta­nt spray that is currently used in hospital operating theatres. However Mr McIntosh – who is the only supplier of the chemical north of Stirling – added that his firm saw real potential in the markets in and around Aberdeen where it could be used. And while it was intended to treat offshore installati­ons, diving chambers and vessels, the company has also started to contract out their services onshore in nurseries, office blocks and care homes. He said: “We have this completely different but effective product called Sanondaf. We took on the agency for it for Aberdeen and offshore, and it can be really useful in confined areas where there has been an outbreak of infection.” The product is an electrosta­tic spray that comes out at low pressure. It’s hydrogen peroxide vapour, a dry mist, which allow you to completely sterilise a surface and air, killing pathogens it comes in contact with. The substance is not corrosive, so it can be used on electrical­s and, currently, the NHS uses it to sterilise their medical theatres. Mr McIntosh added: “Sanondaf has patented the technology that allows you to spray it electrosta­tically so that when it comes out, it will pull round and bind with the environmen­t to get into every nook and cranny. The industry appears to have a shelf-life, but new and exciting opportunit­ies are emerging.