Silver celebration as Marex turns 25

1st May 2023

We are celebrating quarter of a century managing risk in the global energy and marine sectors.

Back in 1998, the Good Friday agreement had just been signed. Alex Miller was managing the Dons in the newly formed Scottish Premier League, and the Stereophonics were playing the Music Hall.

And in that same year, a small marine services business was established in Aberdeen called Marex Marine Services.

Yes, we are celebrating our 25th anniversary and it’s been quite the journey.

Marex was established in 1998 after the Cullen Report into the Piper Alpha disaster. In his report, Lord Cullen laid out over 100 recommendations for changes to safety procedures in the North Sea oil and gas sector.

Founding director Victor Gibson was a professional mariner, and indeed stepped back only a couple of years ago. Marex was launched to help offshore operators gain the peace of mind they needed through stringent risk assessments and the development of safety cases.

Current director Neil Smeaton, who has been with the company for 17 of our 25 years, remembers the first premises on Greyhope Road at Bon Accord House in Aberdeen.

“We were known as being ‘above the lemonade factory’ in those days,” he said.

The factory had a 40ft alcove over the front door which, back in the 1950s, the owner had intended to be filled with an illuminated lemonade bottle. This had been banned by the harbour board who felt it would be an impediment to navigation.

Marex moved here in 1999 as before this Victor and George Craigen had been working out of the Transocean offices, the client for much of the early work.

Originally Marex only occupied one small part of the building with four desks and the use of one of the bathrooms.

During mid to late 2012, we renovated the upper floor of Bon Accord House, installing a new small kitchen and extending into what was the old syrup room.

With offices on the top floor of the building, we fixed a webcam to the front wall, a source of some joy for offshore ship enthusiasts and of information for the harbour boatmen who were able to watch the location of ships coming into the harbour on their computers.

We’ve been through a few changes since then.

In 2018, the business moved across the Dee to Centurion Court and by then was known as Marex Marine and Risk Consultancy.

The move was in part down to the harbour board wanting to demolish Bon Accord House and also to take advantage of a more central location in a more modern shared building with daily contact with other businesses allowing for collaboration.

However Ian McDougall, who had taken over as managing director and major shareholder in March 2007, died in 2018. This was another shift for the business and it moved into a new chapter of its journey.

Marex is now under the watching brief of managing director Wayne Henderson, who took over the reins in 2019.

“There has been a constant evolution for Marex across the years, as there has been for the whole energy industry,” he said.

“We were originally known as Marex Marine and Safety Services, with a very firm focus on health and safety and marine services.

“Over the years, we’ve moved to a more holistic look at how organisations can use a risk-based approach that is driven by achieving compliance, resilience, performance and efficiency.”

The last three years have seen Marex expand its international reach. With more than 20 global consultants now in place, we continue to support not only oil and gas but also businesses operating in the renewables sector and other hazardous environments.

In 2021, we relocated our Aberdeen headquarters to Neo House on Aberdeen’s Riverside Drive.

In the wake of the pandemic, we felt the team needed more flexibility in their working environment, and a new and modern office fitted with the relaunch of Marex as we know it today.

Employees can make use of the onsite gym, coffee bars and flexible desk arrangements, as well as allowing that vital collaboration between companies.

In addition, we opened an office in Lowestoft in England.  This was driven in large part by winning the marine services contract for the East Anglia ONE windfarm by ScottishPower Renewables.

And earlier this year we secured a six-figure deal with Luxembourg marine contractor Jan De Nul Group for safety assessment work on their latest offshore construction vessels.

“Our transition into offshore wind has been a particular focus for diversification,” said Wayne.

“It offers opportunities not only to use existing skills and services but to establish a position between windfarm operators and maintenance contractors that allows both parties to work more efficiently and effectively.

“We help our clients manage risk when seizing new business opportunities. It is a specific expertise developed in 25 years of offshore operation, and our more recent work in renewables.”

Find out more about how Marex can help your business here.

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