26 July 2016/Categories: Media News, Press Releases 2016
Fifty years of knowledge networks
The companies that come together under the umbrella of the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association represent a powerful knowledge base that offers unbeatable commercial, technical and management expertise. Today, fifty years on from its formation in 1966, the Association’s membership list is nothing less than a roll-call of international companies that play a pivotal role in delivering process plant and infrastructure in all parts of the globe.
So whilst we proudly retain the ‘British’ component in our title, let me fully acknowledge the fact that we are thinking globally, but acting locally, to meet the needs of a global industry. Contractors with a significant presence here in the UK continue to win contract for the engineering design, procurement, project management and construction of major projects in many sectors including energy, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
Much of the technology that has been developed by our member companies here in the UK is licensed for use all over the world. Engineers educated here in the UK continue to be in demand around the world, despite current market conditions brought about by the fall in the price of oil, gas and other raw material commodities. BCECA continues to support the skills pipeline in the UK and we are pleased to work alongside other membership bodies, including the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board and the Institution of Chemical Engineers, to secure a talent pool that will deliver future projects in a safe and sustainable manner.
BCECA has provided support to the engineering contracting industry for half a century. We are maintaining our position as an essential knowledge network for that community confident in the belief that the UK will retain its position as a world centre of contracting excellence that brings outstanding service to clients around the world.
A short history of BCECA
BCECA was formed in London by four companies in January 1966. The inaugural meeting was held at the offices of CJB (Constructors John Brown) Ltd. and hosted by Mr John Staniforth who went on to become the Associations first president. In addition to CJB Ltd. the initial members were: Humphreys and Glasgow Ltd; PowerGas Corporation Ltd, and Simon Carves Ltd.
The Association was founded to help promote the export of process plant, particularly to countries in Eastern Europe. The scope of the Association was defined as covering the design, procurement, supply and erection or supervision of erection of major chemical, oil, gas or petrochemical process plants for installation either in the UK or abroad. Its creation provided a single informed and authoritative body through which government departments, allied trade bodies and other interested parties could talk to the chemical engineering contracting industry in the UK as a whole. The Association quickly established productive relationships with government and parliamentarians prompting the then Secretary of State, Anthony Wedgewood Benn, to praise BCECA member companies for their vital role in, “Transforming the results of research into economically viable plants”. The good working relationship with government continued into the 1970s and Benn’s successor, Peter Walker highlighted the importance of chemical engineering contractors in, “Opening up new markets in Eastern Europe and elsewhere”,
Over the next two decades, the Association continued to grow in size and influence with 15 member companies employing over 20,000 people in the UK and generating new business with a value in excess of £2.5 billion; 40% of which was accounted for by export markets.
In 2006 BCECA celebrated its fortieth anniversary. The Association had developed further and the ownership of the companies in membership spanned four continents. The value of new projects totalled around £6 billion. Export projects accounted for around three quarters of this total.
Today in 2016, the 20 member companies under the BCECA umbrella directly employ 15,000 professional staff in the UK, with revenues exceeding £11 billion and a total supply chain value estimated at £50 billion. Dramatic changes in global manufacturing since the Association’s formation now dictate that the majority of plant is no longer based in the UK, but the balance that remains is substantial.
From its modest beginnings, chemical engineering contracting has become one of the UK’s major exporters with over 80% of its work being delivered for international clients. BCECA continues to fulfil an important role providing knowledge networks for some of the world’s largest contracting companies.