New offshore tech centre to have 150 R&D staff by 2017

PHOTO: New offshore tech centre to have 150 R&D staff by 2017

A new technology centre being run by the offshore risk management organisation Lloyd's Register is preparing to ramp up its hiring of engineers, researchers and doctoral students.

The firm, which officially opened the Bukit Batok facility on Thursday, already employs 30 professionals there.

But that will be sharply increased, with plans to increase this to 39 by the end of the year, and steadily bring it to 150 or so by 2017 as more projects are taken on.

By then, Lloyd's also expects to have spent about US$35 million (S$44 million) on the Global Technology Centre (GTC), as it is called, including start-up costs and research expenses, GTC general manager Chris Chung told The Straits Times on Thursday.

The centre will look at issues affecting subsea drilling and well control equipment, deepwater and floating offshore installations, emerging technologies like renewable energy and risk control.

One ongoing project involves developing numerical models to strengthen the design of future offshore structures so that they can better withstand extreme environments and weather conditions.

Mr Chung said the centre has worked closely with the Economic Development Board, which has helped it to find talent, and A*Star (the Agency for Science, Technology and Research).

"We signed a master agreement with A*Star in September 2012," he added.

That has led to 10 joint research projects with the agency, some of which are being conducted in the GTC.

London-based Lloyd's Register is a maritime classification society and risk management organisation that helps maritime companies assess and control risks.

Over the years, it has expanded to also offer services to sectors like energy and rail. It should not be confused with the Lloyd's insurance market, the financial firm Lloyds Banking Group or the shipping journal Lloyd's List. It is distinct from these entities despite the similar names.

Lloyd's Register employs about 300 people in Singapore.

Mr John Rowley, president of Lloyd's Register Asia, told The Straits Times that the organisation generates about £300 million (S$595 million) of revenue every year in Asia. It wants to grow this to £450 million in three years.

He said the growth will come from a combination of acquisitions and "organic growth", which refers to the growth in its existing businesses.

"The world's insatiable requirements of energy, whether from oil, gas or renewables, aren't going to slow down," he said. "We are driving that growth."

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