Faced with a shrinking UK oil refining sector, ancillary service provider Willacy Oil Services is rapidly expanding its overseas operations.
The Deeside-based company in Flintshire, part of independent waste management group CSG, has worked as a strategic partner with many overseas refineries.
It is now manufacturing and supplying bespoke equipment which, together with a range of refinery support and maintenance services, is being exported to many parts of the world including Trinidad, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Kuwait, Greece and Jamaica.
Willacy has long been a leading provider of specialist oil storage cleaning services in the UK, specialising in oil recovery and sludge stabilisation operations at many of the country’s largest refineries.
But the industry here, facing high production costs and a lower oil price, has been struggling to compete against overseas competitors.
Last year the UK Petroleum Industry Association told MPs that the industry faced “a real and imminent threat” from overseas refiners because of a dramatic decrease in refining capacity here.
Willacy General Manager Gavin Lucas said: “We’ve been watching this decline for some time and it’s been pretty steady. In 1975, there were 19 major refineries operating here, but now there are only six, and two major refineries have closed since 2012 alone.
“While we are still very busy here in the UK, we decided that the services we provide would be very exportable and this has proved to be the case. A significant proportion of our income is now coming from overseas clients.
“We can supply the specialist equipment, the experience and technical support, and the whole range of refinery services like oil recovery, sludge bank profiling, tank, lagoon and pit cleaning and emergency spill response.
“Our international customers seem to like this comprehensive and often bespoke approach to their industry and we’re anticipating a lot more growth in our business overseas in the future.”