A SPECIALIST £2.5 million centre of excellence for testing new subsea technologies is to be set up in Aberdeen with the prospect of a number of new jobs.

Balmoral Offshore Engineering, based in Aberdeen, is creating a new open access hyperbaric pressure testing facility for the oil and gas supply chain, and specifically for the subsea sector.

Scottish Enterprise is supporting the project with a £1m research and development grant to the company, which will invest £1.5 million in the project. The centre will be available for large companies and small to medium-sized firms (SMEs) to use.

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The Scottish Government said the move would more than double the capacity of large-scale open access pressure testing vessels in Scotland, from two to five.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the investment before attending the National Economic Forum in Inverness.

She said: “This specialist facility will allow new products to be developed and existing ones to be tested and improved. This will bring huge benefits in developing and supporting emerging technologies in the oil and gas industry.

“Scotland is a world leader in subsea engineering, already accounting for around 15 per cent of the £50 billion global subsea market and as our Subsea Engineering Action plan has outlined, we want to build on this, supporting companies to grow and ensure we have the class-leading test and research infrastructure needed to meet future needs of a sector that already employs 38,000 in Scotland.

“The Energy Jobs Taskforce has made a strong commitment to supporting higher levels of innovation within the sector and this is a great example of this.

“While it is clear the oil and gas sector faces ongoing challenges, this investment continues to underline the many opportunities that remain in Scotland’s world-class supply chain.

“The fundamentals of Scotland’s economy are strong. We want to create the best environment for doing business anywhere in the UK – because we know that the success of Scotland’s businesses underpins the prosperity and wellbeing of every community in the country.”

Jim Milne CBE, chairman and managing director of Balmoral Group, said the Balmoral Subsea Test Centre already employs 12 people but further jobs were likely to be up for grabs.

He added: “We are delighted to have secured this investment from Scottish Enterprise, an organisation we have been collaborating successfully with for many years.

“The establishment of Europe’s leading hyperbaric test centre in Aberdeen further strengthens the city’s position as a centre of excellence for the global subsea industry while also opening up opportunities to work with the renewables and defence sectors.

“With the offshore industry demanding ever-increasing product testing, and as a company with innovation at its core, we are pleased to offer additional capacity for ‘open access’ third party testing. As well as servicing our customers we particularly look forward to supporting Scotland’s academic institutions with their R&D programmes. The Balmoral Subsea Test Centre currently employs 12 people and in addition to safeguarding those positions there is a high probability of adding to this number.”

The global market for subsea is worth around £50bn and is likely to grow to £140bn by 2035.