A story of determination and diversification amid the pandemic slowdown.
How is Serimax thriving?
Like many service suppliers to the oil and gas sector, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time for Serimax. With the industry just about recovering from the crisis of 2014/15, projects were once again put on hold as lockdown and travel restrictions decimated demand, forcing the company to adapt. But adapt it did, applying its pipeline fabricating expertise to the utility sector, where last year it picked up a landmark utility project with after impressing in trials and winning the client over with its open, responsive, and can-do approach to business.
Set on the road to recovery following the oil crisis of 2014/15, specialist pipeline fabricator Serimax had reason to be optimistic. By 2020, the firm had emerged strongly, winning an award from the EIC and equipped with a high-skilled workforce ready to fulfil a growing order book.
But in March 2020, everything changed. The arrival of the pandemic prompted another price plunge as lockdown restrictions saw economies and international travel come to a halt, putting the buffers on any hard-earned momentum Serimax had built up.
The crisis forced the company to close entirely for two weeks, with an internal taskforce established to understand and implement changes to working approaches and QHSE policies. Projects were disrupted. In Cyprus, having already committed to complete a series of work, Serimax had to work around staffing complications caused by border closures and quarantine rules. The team stood up to the task, honouring the contract and delivering professionally and on time.
As the pandemic developed, however, deferred projects started to be cancelled altogether, leaving gaping holes in the order book that the company had to fill.
It soon became clear to VP Northen Europe Dave Mackay and his leadership team that Serimax had to spread risk by opening up alternative revenue streams. In fact Mackay was already in the process of building a diversification strategy, realizing in late 2018 that the company was too reliant on the oil and gas sector. Since then the firm has been building contacts, acquiring information, skills and training requirement, as well as welding specifications for new markets such as utilities and hydrogen gas. In 2021, a breakthrough arrived in the form of a major utility contract win. The client was seeking a welding and fabrication partner to work on its unique spiral wound, zero-flush pipeline in Lincolnshire, joining pipes together in a series of trenches. Serimax, recognising it could apply its expertise to this brief, secured the project after impressing with its expertise during the trial phase which saw it achieve a 100% clean outcome with zero splatter and infiltration into the pipe. Furthermore, the client identified with Serimax’s open approach and responsive attitude to communications, fully aligning with its ‘how can we help, let’s get it done’ mentality.
The firm is currently working on phase one of the project with a team of 20 employees, a contract worth £1 million that has the potential to expand in scope given the client’s objective to complete and flush test 500 kilometres of pipe by 2025. Testament to Serimax’s can-do attitude is the fact that, alongside tendering for the project, the company had to requalify for numerous welding certifications specific to the utility sector, covering issues such as CO2 awareness and working in confined spaces. This also included certifications for working on the client’s construction sites, a make-or-break hurdle that had to be overcome in a matter of weeks. Nominated by the client, and as a direct result of their open and collaborative partnership, Serimax has been shortlisted for a prestigious industry award in the Collaboration Award category. Having enjoyed some initial success in the utility space, the door is now open to pursue opportunities pertaining to hydrogen gas pipelines, a move which could help the company to increase its share in revenues from diversified lines of business even further. With the utility sector already accounting for around 10% of all income, Serimax looks set to transform into an entirely different commercial enterprise as it seeks further growth in utilities and energy transition markets.
Serimax is a specialised welding company offering a range of services to support industry demands from basic to sophisticated welding parameters. With almost 50 years experience, the company offers specialist expertise in fully integrated welding, fabrication, engineering, technology, field joint coating, nuclear, inspection, training, research & development, and full project management services. Operating in the most extreme conditions and challenging environments, Serimax support these market sectors in all welding applications from deep, ultra-deep (HPHT), nuclear, landlines, and fabrication. Serimax has its headquarters in France and offices in the USA, Scotland, Russia, Brazil, Malaysia, China, Australia, and the UK.
Read the original version of this story published by EIC here
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