50 Years of Bilfinger UK: A legacy of growth and diversification
'In a world where longevity stands as a testament to excellence, Bilfinger UK is celebrating 50 years of remarkable growth, countless milestones, and enduring success. The offshore maintenance business based in Aberdeen (formerly known as Salamis), was founded in 1973 as a painting and blasting firm on Balnagask Road, Torry, and this journey of five decades is a testament to the quality and innovation that have become synonymous with this Aberdeen business and the Bilfinger name.
Today, as we commemorate 50 years in the industry, we also celebrate the transformation of Bilfinger Salamis into Bilfinger UK, marking a new era of growth and expanded capabilities.
Our 50-Year Journey:
Since its humble beginnings, Bilfinger has evolved into an industry leader, providing integrated industrial support to the oil and gas sector. The company's journey began on October 10, 1973, when it started as Salamis (Marine and Industrial) Limited, specialising in painting and blasting at its Torry location. Over the years, the firm expanded its operations, moving to its current headquarters on Greenhole Place in Aberdeen with just seven office staff, three yard staff, and around 30 offshore employees.
Diversification and Growth:
In 1982, Bilfinger ventured into scaffolding and engineering divisions, further broadening its capabilities with offshore work coming from clients including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil. The company's success story continued with Joint Ventures such as SGB/Salamis (SSL) and APG/Salamis (later becoming a part of Petrofac). The rapid growth of the business in the eighties led to its acquisition by Maersk in 1984, followed by further organic growth, acquisitions, and joint ventures. Expansion led Bilfinger to operate in Great Yarmouth in 1981, expanding to Lowestoft in 1997, and extending its Aberdeen facilities in 1992.
Becoming Bilfinger Salamis UK:
In 2006, Bilfinger Salamis - now a multi-service contracting company - was acquired by Munich-based Bilfinger Berger Industrial Services marking a significant milestone in its history.
March 2013 witnessed a crucial rebranding as the company transitioned into Bilfinger Salamis UK, boasting over 350 onshore staff across bases in Aberdeen and Lowestoft, as well as more than 2,000 offshore employees. The service portfolio included painting, blasting, scaffolding, fireproofing, supply of multi-disciplined deck crews, specialist cleaning, architectural outfitting, decommissioning, and extended inspection services.
Becoming Bilfinger UK:
In 2022, Bilfinger Salamis and Bilfinger UK merged, uniting under the Bilfinger UK brand. This merger created one of the UK's largest tier-one engineering and maintenance contractors with a turnover of €400 million. With over 5,000 employees during peak periods and a presence in 14 onshore locations across key industrial hubs, the merger seamlessly integrated onshore and offshore capabilities. This strategic move positioned Bilfinger UK as a key contractor for delivering large renewable energy projects, playing a pivotal role in the UK's transition to net-zero emissions.
Bilfinger UK continues to build upon Bilfinger Salamis' legacy while offering a comprehensive suite of Asset Integrity as well as Operations and Maintenance services to clients. It’s portfolio encompasses cutting-edge engineering, industrial maintenance, turnkey solutions, digital transformation, and sustainability initiatives. We work hand-in-hand with our clients to optimise processes, reduce downtime, and enhance operational efficiency. Our commitment to excellence, safety, and sustainability remains unwavering as we strive to exceed client expectations.
Coincidentally born in 1973 in Aberdeen - on the exact same day in October as the local Salamis company was originally founded – is Bilfinger UK’s Executive President, Sandy Bonner. He started with the company upon leaving University as a Project Engineer in 1995, and his Bilfinger journey has included the role of Operations Manager, Operations Director, Managing Director and latterly Executive President. Evolving with the company, Sandy has grown the business to become the largest employer in the North Sea Offshore Maintenance market.
He said: "Sustaining excellence for five decades is a remarkable achievement for Bilfinger, and it's an honour to commemorate this milestone as we look forward to the future as one of the UK's largest tier-one contractors.
“Our journey reflects our unwavering commitment to innovation, safety, and delivering top-tier solutions. Over the years, we've witnessed profound changes in the oil and gas industry, and as it evolves, we evolve with it.
“As the industry shifts towards cleaner, more sustainable energy solutions, Bilfinger UK is at the forefront of embracing these changes. We've leveraged our decades of expertise to venture into the new markets such as offshore wind, biopharma, nuclear and other emerging markets. We recognise the global demand for energy is changing, and so are we.
“Our journey is not just about celebrating the past but embracing the future. As we celebrate the 50-year journey of Bilfinger locally, as well as the evolution into Bilfinger UK, we look forward to a future filled with innovation, growth, and unparalleled support for our clients.
“We are dedicated to exceeding client expectations, contributing to the UK's renewable energy goals, and continuing our legacy of excellence as a dynamic and forward-thinking partner in the ever-evolving energy landscape."