A £1m research and development project focused on cost reduction, increased efficiency and added value for the oil and gas sector has received backing from Scottish Enterprise.

Edinburgh-based Concept Systems, a subsidiary of ION Geophysical, develops software for the seismic exploration market.

This new project will see the company vastly enhance the functionality of its Orca® software, a comprehensive survey planning and management tool, which will help reinforce the company’s position as a key global player in the marine seismic survey planning market by widening the technology gap from its competitors.

The two year project can go ahead thanks to support from Scottish Enterprise. The economic development agency has offered almost £295,000 of funding which will help create three new jobs and safeguard a further nine. Additionally, it will help the company increase its revenue over the next three years.

Focussed on innovation to grow its business, in April this year the company announced another research and development project to develop an innovative marine management system, Marlin™. Also supported by Scottish Enterprise, this project aims to help the company diversify into the broader exploration and production market.

Welcoming the announcement whilst on a visit to Canada and the United States, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown said: “This is a welcome announcement. The investment from Scottish Enterprise will help to maximise the project’s value, its worth to Scotland and the opportunities for those employees involved.

“Innovation remains crucial to the oil and gas sector for maximising economic recovery and reducing costs, ultimately securing the long term sustainability of the North Sea. Scotland’s offshore oil and gas industry has a bright future, with up to 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent remaining under the North Sea and in the wider basin.

“ION is a leading innovator in geoscience and engineering. Given Scotland’s long tradition of excellence in the oil and gas industry, it would seem a natural partnership. The fact that ION have chosen to base their project here shows that through partnership working we can effect business decisions and demonstrate that Scotland is open for business.”

Senior director for innovation and enterprise at Scottish Enterprise, Jim Watson, added: “Innovation should be at the heart of every business to maximise its growth ambition, a philosophy clearly adopted by ION. It recognises the importance of innovation to stay ahead of its competitors and secure its position as a leader in the global marketplace. With our help, ION can make this happen.

“As the oil and gas sector adapts to the changing global environment, we remain committed to helping it grow by investing in innovation activities and we are delighted to be supporting this ambitious and innovative company on its journey.”

Executive Vice President of ION’s E&P Operations Optimization group, said: “We are pleased to be offered a second grant from Scottish Enterprise to further develop our industry-leading software platform. The Orca enhancements are designed to further optimize survey planning and operations at a time when efficiency has never been more critical.

“While the workflows are mature, the current tools have functionality gaps and overlaps that create inefficiencies. The primary objective of the Orca Project development is to provide a comprehensive survey planning and management tool that links the seismic vessel operational environment to the office. We look forward to rolling out the valuable new software to our customers soon.”