An Aberdeen-based company has received a £1.5 million boost to develop innovative new technology for the oil and gas sector.
Start-up business Raptor Oil is to benefit from £1.1 million from private sector funders including oil and gas company Statoil, as well as £400,000 from public body Scottish Enterprise.
The money will fund the development of a wireless data communication tool for use in wells.
The project is the first to receive funding through the Seek and Solve programme, a partnership between Statoil and Scottish Enterprise aimed at encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in developing new technologies.
The deal was announced in advance of a Scottish Government debate at Holyrood on action needed to support the oil and gas sector.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The £400,000 grant funding from Scottish Enterprise which, together with the £1.1 million of funding from the private sector will support this 17-month project aimed at significantly improving the performance and reliability of existing oil and gas sensory systems.
“This new funding will enable the company to refine and test its product design and performance by replicating real-life conditions.
“Innovation is critical if we are to maximise recovery of the remaining reserves in the North Sea and this project demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to a sustainable and certain future for the oil and gas sector.”
Richard Erskine, head of Statoil Technology Invest, said: “Statoil believes wireless telemetry has the potential to revolutionise in-well communication and we are delighted to be cooperating with Scottish Enterprise in funding this technology development.
“Hopefully Raptor is only the first of many such funding opportunities we will cooperate on as we continue to hunt for good ideas across Scotland.”
Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson added: “In the last year alone we’ve helped more than £6.13 million worth of innovation projects within oil and gas supply chain companies and supported key projects such as the new Oil and Gas Innovation Centre.
“Investing in innovation in this sector is vital to its long term future and we intend to do as much as possible to stimulate that in the coming years.”
Gordon Cowie, chief executive of Raptor Oil, said the company would seek to refine its “potentially ground breaking” technology by replicating real-life conditions at a purpose built test site in Aberdeen.
Meanwhile, Labour is expected to say that the publication of Scotland’s annual accounts tomorrow will be a milestone for the future of the North Sea as the impact of the plummeting oil price on Scotland’s public finances becomes clearer.
The party’s finance spokeswoman Jackie Baillie will use the debate at Holyrood to call for Chancellor George Osborne to take urgent action to help the industry in next week’s Budget statement.
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and shadow chancellor Ed Balls are due to meet with senior Oil and Gas UK representatives in London today.
Ms Baillie will say: “The oil industry is a great Scottish success story. It sustains thousands of jobs and is central to our economy. But the plummeting oil price has put jobs at risk and hit our public finances.
“When George Osborne delivers his Budget next week he must take the urgent action needed to attract investment in the North Sea over the long term. If the Tories don’t act, the next Labour Government will. The oil industry is too important to jobs and funding our public services in Scotland to walk by on the other side.
“The publication of Scotland’s accounts this week will show the stark impact of the SNP’s plan for full fiscal autonomy within the UK. Swapping the higher public spending and stability of Barnett for the big spending cuts and reliance on volatile oil prices to pay for schools and hospitals would be a disaster for Scotland.
“Scottish Labour has a better plan for Scotland. We want more powers for Scotland that brings decision making closer to home but keeps the stability of Barnett.”