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J+S Subsea in control following management buyout

The Aberdeen based subsea controls engineering division of SEA, a subsidiary of the independent technology group Cohort plc, has undergone a management buyout as it looks to grow its core business in the North Sea European energy sector.

Since the divestment completed, the company has reverted to a new version of its original trading name, J+S Subsea Limited. The business is now wholly owned and managed by the senior leadership team, led by Matt Blair. All 17 personnel have been retained and the firm has plans to expand its engineering and production workforce in the coming months.

J+S Subsea is a global subsea energy controls company for new and recertified equipment. The business will continue to focus on refurbishing, designing, manufacturing, and engineering controls for the energy sectors and providing operational support where required.

Its Legacy Locker repository subsidiary business is also part of the MBO and will continue to offer its clients options from its range of refurbished capital equipment. The online resource takes existing, unwanted equipment and recycles or re-engineers assets to provide a cost-efficient and optimised solution as well as offering options for sale rather than scrappage.

The company also has plans to move to a new facility in the Aberdeen area that will allow them to support current operational requirements as well as giving options for expansion and new opportunities.

J+S Subsea executive chairman Mr. Blair said: “We would like to thank SEA for all their support through the last few years and wish them the best for the future. We are well-positioned to build on our reputation and experience in subsea controls and operational engineering support to drive the business forward in the UK Continental Shelf as well as overseas. As businesses engage further in the energy transition, the number of subsea campaigns in the North Sea is on the rise. It’s our strategy to focus on supporting these projects and demonstrate the value we provide with our responsive, safe, and high-quality solutions.

“We are aiming to continue and expand our areas of expertise in the upcoming years and will achieve this by building organically and strategically while continuing to deliver a first-class experience to our clients.”

The transaction was supported by law firm Addleshaw Goddard and corporate finance advice was provided to the management buy-out team by Dow Schofield Watts in Aberdeen.

Dow Schofield Watts partner, Tom Faichnie, said: “The subsea division is a successful and profitable business whose skills in helping clients to extend asset life will be very much in demand in the years ahead. The transaction gives the experienced management team autonomy of the business to take it forward to the next stage of its growth.”

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Phil Reid Managing Director >>

Phil has worked in the oil and gas industry for over 25 years. He started his career with Kvaerner FSSL progressing through a variety of roles in subsea engineering, from manufacturing to leading some of their most complex projects all over the world. He worked with the original J+S for a period before moving on to Genesis Oil and Gas as a Subsea Controls Engineering consultant; during that period, he was seconded to Centrica Energy (now Spirit Energy) which led to a permanent role as Lead Subsea Controls & Umbilical Engineer for Developments, Capital Projects and Operated Assets. For almost a decade Phil successfully delivered Capital Projects from concept right through to project close out whilst also looking after the running of their subsea assets.

As part of J&S Subsea limited, Phil will oversee the day-to-day operations and grow the business both in the UK and globally. 

James Morris – Engineering Director

James’s career started when he joined the Royal Navy from school as an Artificer Apprentice. After a 5-year Marine Engineering Apprenticeship he served in surface ships HMS Glamorgan, HMS Edinburgh, and HMS Glasgow and at Rosyth as part of an engineering support team. 

Moving into the Oil & Gas Industry in 1992, over the next 26 years he gained a wealth of experience within large and small companies on operation, design and project management of subsea control systems and equipment. This period started with several years as a Project Engineer for a family run hydraulic services company Grampian Hydraulics followed by 5 years as a Support Engineer at Kvaerner Oilfield Products.  James joined RRC Controls Services ltd in 2001 before finally moving to J+S Ltd in 2010. At J+S his dedication and technical capabilities were rewarded with several promotions until becoming a member of the management buyout team. 

He has designed an extensive array of subsea equipment from basic cable penetrators to complete subsea control modules. 

James thrives on providing solutions for client’s problems. 

As Engineering Director, James will ensure that the company provides clients with timely, cost effective and technically sound solutions and services. 

Simon Smith – Business Development Director
Simon has worked in the oil and gas sector for over 20 years. He started his career as a planning co-ordinator for offshore development systems and has since been involved in both surface and subsea operation management both locally and overseas with Wood Group, Plexus Ocean Systems and Cameron’s before joining J+S Ltd in 2012 as a Senior Account Engineer. J+S Ltd then became part of SEA Ltd and the Cohort Group where Simon was promoted to Business Development Manager in 2019 before taking part in the management buyout of the Aberdeen based subsea division of SEA to form J&S Subsea Limited.
Simon initially studied Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Edinburgh University and later Engineering Design at The Robert Gordon University and recently became a Certified Project Management Associate through APM. Simon has experience with on and offshore support along with efficiency and safety control and has utilised this to deliver large scale projects for international clients in the energy industries.
As part of J&S Subsea limited, Simon plans to help grow the Subsea Energy business both in the UK and globally while championing a circular economy focus to help provide a better future.
Simon Smith

Matthew Blair – Executive Chairman

Matt Blair is Chairman of J+S Subsea which was formed in October 2020 through a management buyout of the Subsea Engineering Division of Systems Engineering and Assessment Ltd. 

With J+S Subsea and SEA for over 14 years, Matt has a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise.  Matt works closely with Oil company subsea engineering and production controls departments, supporting their subsea operational assets. 

Previously an Electronics Engineer with Ferranti Computer Systems Ltd specializing in sonar and command systems, Matt moved into hydrographic survey working with Subsea7, Tritech, and CDL before joining J+S Subsea.  

He is Vice Chair of the Decom Leadership Group of Decom North Sea and in that role has facilitated industry and academic studies on potential for reuse and repurposing of decommissioned equipment.   

Matt is seeking further opportunities to update and transfer Oil and Gas technologies and products into the Marine Renewables markets and help to develop the broader circular economy.