Thursday marked the grand opening of the Expro building in Paradise — a new base for that company’s operations in the North Atlantic offshore.
Rather than simply a sign of growth in a single business, the event acted as a celebration of the potential seen in the province’s offshore oil and gas sector.
Expro provides a trio of services for offshore Newfoundland: well testing, and subsea and downhole video.
Hibernia, Statoil and Husky are on the company’s list of local clients, with Expro staff having worked on drill rigs such as the Henry Goodrich and the GSF Grand Banks.
The company’s new base is at 12 Pollard Ave., in Octagon Business Park in Paradise. The location was selected, in part, because it could be purpose-built on a new lot.
“As Expro, it’s the first time we’ve had our own facility (here),” said Carl Cooper, the company’s frontier division manager for North America. “It’s our first direct investment into this area.”
Cooper made it clear he was referring, in terms of local presence, to buildings only.
Expro currently has 28 employees in-province, with a team of mainly locals working for the company here since 1998.
Expro has 30 employees at the new Paradise base.
Project to project, the staff has been building experience in the local environment.
“In all reality, we’re just getting started,” Cooper said.
Construction on the new building started in April 2011. The industrial facility was custom-built by St. John’s-based design and construction company Summit Builders Ltd.
In addition to the staff offices and boardroom — typical of many businesses — there is a training room, where the daily 8 a.m. safety meetings are also held, a laundry room and locker rooms for both sexes.
Moving into the 8,400 square feet of work area at the back of the building, there is a four-bay workshop. In terms of unique touches, a 15-ton overhead crane is found in this area and one bay area has been built with a blast wall around it — engineered to test the company’s offshore “kit” before use, up to 22,000 PSI.
“You don’t want to be standing next to that,” shop supervisor Dave Reid said with a smile, explaining a collection of cameras within the pressure testing bay feed video to a screen in an adjacent “pressure control test room.” It allows Expro staff to watch as the equipment is tested.
“Safety is Number 1,” he said.
Expro International employs about 350 people at more than 20 operating bases throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, according to the company site.
Chief operating officer Mike Jardon was in Paradise for the official opening of the new Expro base. He said Eastern Canada, including offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, is an area where the company is seeing “consistent investment” and “long-term commitment” from both regular clientele and prospective clients.
“This is an area where we can really showcase some of our key tech,” he said.
Jardon added the feeling within the company is developments off both Labrador and Greenland are on the horizon, laying the ground for fresh opportunities in future.
While the Expro grand opening was this week, the offices at the new base have actually been open since early February.