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Asco back in the black and growing its global footprint

Asco operations on Albert Quay, Aberdeen.
Asco operations on Albert Quay, Aberdeen.

Further international expansion has coincided with a return to the black for global logistics firm Asco.

The Aberdeen company established a new operating base in Senegal and grew its presence in Canada during 2021.

Asco, which also has operations in Norway, Trinidad and Australia, is today reporting a resurgence for its business during 2021.

Activity is not yet back to levels seen before the pandemic but that point is likely to be reached during 2022, chief executive officer Peter France told The Press and Journal.

We anticipate further opportunities as we expand our international operations and as we continue to diversify our service offering to new sectors.”

Peter France, CEO, Asco.

The pick-up last year led to a recruitment drive across new and existing locations, including UK bases in Aberdeen, Peterhead and Great Yarmouth, taking total headcount to more than 1,400.

Asco said its new base in Dakar, where it is the sole provider of quayside management services to the newly established Senegalese oil and gas industry, gave it “significant scope” for future growth across the wider region.

Meanwhile, the company opened a third site in New Brunswick, Canada, to strengthen energy industry downstream capabilities in North America.

Asco has also committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

It said the drive to decarbonise its operations with new technology was well under way, improving sustainability in the industry and “exemplifying best practices”.

The firm said it had successfully supported multiple wind developments in the UK and Norway, as well as the development of blue ammonia – a low-carbon approach to ammonia production – and carbon capture utilisation and storage.

Mr France added: “Our new operating models and innovation have enhanced our service and supported our retention and extension of several key contracts, markedly growing our UK market share.

“Following a successful first quarter in 2022, we are exceptionally well-placed for continued growth.

“Through the expansion of our international operations and diversification of our service into new sectors including carbon capture and offshore wind, we will accelerate not only our own energy transition but our clients’ as well.”

Asco CEO Peter France.

Asco’s enlarged footprint generated pre-tax profits of £1.075 million during 2021.

This was against losses of about £46.7m the year before, when Covid-19 and lower commodity prices reduced drilling activity in the company’s key oil and gas market.

Operating profits, before on-off items, more than doubled to £13.1m in the latest period.

Turnover for the 2021 calendar year came in at £419m, up £72m, or nearly 21%, from about £347m in the previous 12 months.

‘Solid’ financial performance

Mr France said: “It has been a challenging time for the sector – amidst the global pandemic and industry challenges – as it strives to achieve net-zero targets.

“But I’m very pleased to report that Asco has delivered a solid financial performance.

“While the coronavirus travel restrictions proved challenging for over 18 months, we were still able to open two new and successful operating locations in Senegal and Canada, and continued to grow our established sites and networks across the globe.”

Signing off Asco’s latest accounts, Mr France said: “Current economic and geopolitical challenges… are likely to positively impact investment in our traditional oil and gas market in the short to medium term.”

But he added: “We are likely to see increased investment in new markets, such as carbon capture and offshore wind, that will support our long-term objective of transitioning from a service industry for the oil and gas industry to one servicing all aspects of the energy supply chain.

“We anticipate further opportunities as we expand our international operations and as we continue to diversify our service offering to new sectors.”

Who owns Asco?

Asco is owned by a consortium of investors, trading as Zander Topco, whose directors include Mr France, oil and gas veteran Bob Keiller – who joined Asco as chairman when it changed hands in late 2020, for an undisclosed sum – and ex Sparrows Group boss Doug Sedge.

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