Scotland’s oil and gas industry is undergoing constant renewal to meet Net Zero targets.
Companies operating in the sector are under increasing pressure to find sustainable measures to help offset carbon emissions.
Some oil and gas operators have been turning bi-product waste into new materials ready to go back into the industry, ultimately feeding into Scotland’s circular economy.
Pioneering a circular economy
Based in Peterhead, the manufacturer produces plastic thread protectors to cover oil and gas drilling pipes. Since it’s establishment in 1994, the company has used mostly old, recycled plastic material, which would otherwise be thrown off oilrigs or go to landfill.
Work began to pick up for the oil and gas manufacturer when customers started to return old thread protectors that were no longer fit for purpose. Norkram took this opportunity to refurbish the old equipment into a new model ready for re-sale. Any plastic that was not suitable for refurbishment was shredded down and sold back to the plastics industry for making items such as wheelie bins.
Investing in the circular economy
With demand continuing to rise, Norkram required financial investment to meet the demand from its growing customer base. And in 2017, the manufacturer began the application process for funding from Zero Waste Scotland, part funded by European Regional Development Fund.
General manager at Norkram, Andrew Gray, explains more about the funding process: “It was the right time to consider applying for funding. It aligned with our business mission to support the production of refurbished equipment for servicing the oil and gas sector and gave us the opportunity to expand our capabilities.
“The funding was received very easily through a streamlined process, and our Zero Waste Scotland representative was incredibly helpful when putting forward our business case, emphasising the importance of our equipment to the oil and gas sector.
“As well as the welcome injection of cash into the business, Zero Waste Scotland was also able to provide us with a model to measure potential expansion areas. The model proved a success, and so we allocated the Zero Waste Scotland funding to manufacturing new recycled equipment.”
Positive results for the oil and gas industry
Zero Waste Scotland’s funding enabled Norkram to invest in new machinery to process large amounts of recycled plastic to fit into different moulds, creating various models of thread protectors. As a result of the new thread protector products, the manufacturer moved operations to two rotational shifts, five days a week, and employed four new members of staff to keep up with product demand.
With the new machinery in place, Norkram calculated a carbon saving reduction of 66 tonnes over the first quarter, which was actually four tonnes more than what was originally estimated.
Andrew continues: “The figures show how a logical extension of what was already in existence across our business has led to a significant impact on carbon emission reduction.
“Now we have firm, tangible results, and we are in a position to look at expanding our capabilities even further to manufacturing goods for different sectors. One industry we are currently exploring is working with renewables to make equipment to drive forward Net Zero in Scotland.
“Thanks to the support of Zero Waste Scotland, we now have a growing customer base and a bright future feeding into the circular economy.”