Wood Group Engineering North Sea LTD

September 20, 2022
Aberdeen based Wood Group

Wood Group is a people-business built on old fashioned values of good service, hard work and robust business ethics but it's also dynamic and an exciting place to work.

History of Wood Group

From its 19th century roots in the Scottish fishing industry, the Wood family’s business has developed into a global energy services company employing 14, 000 people in 36 countries, with sales of $2.2billion.

Early history

The Wood family’s fishing business began in the 1890s when the family owned a number of fishing boats operating out of the port of Aberdeen in North East Scotland. In 1912 William Wood (grandfather of Sir Ian Wood, chairman and CEO of Wood Group) founded Wood & Davidson, a ship repairing and marine engineering firm to service the fishing fleet.

He had seven sons and the youngest, John Wood (Sir Ian Wood’s father), took over the family’s share in the early 1950s. In 1964 John Wood bought out the other shareholders and became chairman – the company had 50 employees and a turnover of £50, 000. In 1964 Ian Wood joined the business, now named John Wood & Son, and the marine base was expanded into fishing, fish processing and general marine engineering. At that time Aberdeen was a major deep-sea trawler port and their 23-strong fleet was playing an important role. Ian Wood became managing director in 1967 and under his leadership the company switched from the bigger trawlers to more profitable inshore boats and was the largest independent Trawler Owners in Scotland.

The John Wood Group (Aberdeen) Ltd

During the 1970s Scotland’s new industry, North Sea oil presented an ideal opportunity to translate marine engineering experience into engineering and support services and by the end of the 1970s The John Wood Group (Aberdeen) had become one of the largest private industrial companies in Scotland, employing 1750 and with a turnover of £18 million.

The evolution began back in 1970 when the Group really began to appreciate the huge potential of the recently discovered North Sea oil and took advantage of the new-found opportunities. Ian Wood visited Houston in 1972 and realised the potential for Aberdeen to become a mini-Houston, a centre for oil technology. The development into North Sea oil engineering work was a major challenge for the Group and required considerable capital expenditure for the modification of premises, the re-training of skills and recruitment of new staff. The company gradually extended its ship repairing activities beginning with the acquisition of John Lewis & Sons Ltd in 1972 for £1 million, another of Aberdeen’s largest industrial complexes, and the seeds of its engineering business were sown. Early in 1973 an alliance was formed with the Glasgow-based Weir Group of companies and Wood-Weir Engineering Services Ltd was established. Operating in Aberdeen, in one of the best-equipped and most versatile oil engineering workshops in the North of Scotland, engineering staff were recruited and trained in specialist oil field servicing techniques. Further engineering developments included the formation of Offshore Platforms Maintenance (Scotland) Ltd specialising in the maintenance requirements of offshore platforms and the formation of John Wood Group Electrical Engineering Ltd specialising in electrical servicing and communications.

In June 1975 the first UK offshore oil was produced from the Argyll field and the first oil from the Brent field followed on the 11th November 1976 - one of the keys to unlocking the North Sea’s riches to the great benefit of the UK economy. The Brent field gave Wood Group its first major offshore contract.

It was decided in 1981 to split the oil service business away from the family’s fishing business and on January 4th 1982 two independent businesses were set up – John Wood Group, focusing on engineering, oilfield logistics & supplies and drilling services, and J W Holdings, the largest fishing company in Scotland. In 1982 John Wood Group announced a turnover of £59 million.

Throughout the 1980s there was steady development of Wood Group’s North Sea business, both onshore and offshore. In 1986 it formed a joint venture with Ferranti Offshore Systems to acquire a 51% shareholding in Foster Wheeler Petroleum Development and Associates Ltd. In 1987 Foster Wheeler Wood Group Engineering (60% owned) carried out the West Sole Modifications Project for BP, one of the largest projects of its time. By 1989 it was the UK’s largest indigenous oil service company and a world leader in the overhaul and repair of industrial gas turbines, employing 2, 000 people. Profits had trebled over the previous three years and the Group began to grow organicially and with acquisitions.


During the 1990s the Group expanded its international oil & gas activities and extended internationally with many strategic acquisitions. In 1991 the Group was employing 2, 500 and operating in the North Sea, Europe, North America and the Middle East and declared profits of £16.9million and by 1999 more than 5, 500 people were employed in 25 countries and profits were up to £33.6million.

In 1990 the Group formed a joint venture company with Rolls-Royce plc extending overhaul and repair capability to include the RB211 and Olympus engines. Then in 1993 J P Kenny was acquired, with its world-renowned pipeline and subsea capability, and enhanced the Group’s life-of-field capability and positioned us for forthcoming marginal field developments. Wood-Way’s pump and overhaul and maintenance activities were merged with Sulzer’s pumpcare to create a new company, Sulzer Wood. In 1994 the acquisition of GTC Gas Turbine in Dundee gave the Group a capability in heavy industrial gas turbine component repair and then in 1997 the Group formed a 50/50 joint venture with TransCanada PipeLines Ltd, the largest pipeline company in the world outside Russia, called TransCanada Turbines Ltd. Such partners are a testament to the Group’s determination to achieve the highest standards of quality and customer dedication.

A market leader in the North Sea - Early in the 1990s long-term partnering arrangements were developed with a number of major clients including the MMSC for Shell UK and full responsibility for the maintenance and modifications on the Brent Charlie and Brent Delta platforms. During the late 1990s Wood Group Engineering (North Sea) became a market leader in the North Sea providing integrated engineering, operations and maintenance services to BP, Shell, Talisman, Amerada Hess, BG, Enterprise Oil and ChevronTexaco.

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Source: www.electricscotland.com
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