Serial entrepreneur goes from oil to salmon: “It’s always hard to be first”

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He earned his fortune from oil drilling, inspection and maintenance in the North Sea. Geir Nordahl-Pedersen will now develop land-based salmon farms.

“Next time we meet, we will have new premises. We have sold this to the Lie group,” Geir Nordahl-Pedersen told SalmonBusiness. “Building is boring. Running a building is boring. Building new is fun. I’m a little restless,” he quickly added.

In the hallway, the blue-lacquered drilling ship “Norshore Atlantic” stands in glass, in front of a wooden-frame oil painting on the wall. The wonder cost USD 240 million when it was delivered seven years ago.

PHOTO: Aslak Berge

Business
“We rented it out to Shell. It was not a good business,” he admitted and looks over at the long-time business partner Trond Haugland.

“We have worked in teams in Norshore, on the drilling ship,” said Haugland, who has “Averøy Seafood CEO” on the business card. The duo is planning to build three similar land-based fish farms at Losna, Averøy and Øygarden, aiming for 90,000 tonnes.

“I am part of Averøy and Øygarden, not Losna,” said Haugland, who has a long track record from the Hydro system.

From the fourth floor of the office building, they can look out over large parts of Lille-Sotra and Bildøy, Western Norway.

“I bought up that area there,” Nordahl-Pedersen said, adding that he wants to build a school here close to a nearby sports hall.

Whirlwind
Sport is important to him. Nordahl-Pedersen is also an investor in Hardball, the player-owning investment company that has for many years been a close financial supporter of the football team Brann Bergen.

Geir Nordahl-Pedersen is a “firestarter”, a classic whirlwind of an entrepreneur. The tool he uses is Ability Holding, a debt-free company with an equity of EUR 5 million, built from the money he made in the oil industry.

“I ran a company called AGR earlier. We got quite big, one of the largest in the country on inspection,” he said. “We had all the paint and maintenance inspection for Statoil among other things. We have a background in HSE (health, safety and environmental) and have been involved in drilling and pumps. We were the ones who drilled deepest. We brought cuttings up with our own pumps,” he said.

ILLUSTRATION: Losna Seafood

Syndication
“So we have been working on this problem here. And when we looked at it here with land-based fish farms and RAS facilities, we had a lot of resources to go on to make this work,” said Nordahl-Pedersen.

“At AGR we were drilling. We were the first to start syndicate drilling rigs, rented a rig from Fred. Olsen, and syndicated out to smaller oil companies. It was a success really that. But it’s clear that when the others saw it, so did they. When I gave up, we were 1,200-1,400 men. It was sold to PSL. And then they went in after a couple of years, then I bought it back again. Then we sold it to (private equity fund) Altor. And then it’s been split up into several parts,” he said.

“And then we have built drillships. We weren’t as lucky with that. And I guess not many people have been so lucky with it lately,” he chuckled.

Geir Nordahl-Pedersen. Photo: Aslak Berge

Much cheaper
On the AGR adventure, Nordahl-Pedersen earned several tens of millions of EUR. He was also worked in Miras, a company providing services and products to the subsea and energy industry.

“We have a lot of contacts all around, and the suppliers we have used have been good for us,” said the serial entrepreneur.

“It’s always hard to be first, it’s always better to be a little behind there. Because then the recipe is there, and then it’s much cheaper. You learn a lot from seeing,” Nordahl-Pedersen pointed out.

Now he is involved in salmon, specifically land-based fish farms, for the production of 90,000 tonnes at three locations.

He’s been an avid salmon fisherman since he was a kid.

“But I didn’t know that the fish I went up in the late summer were production fish (fish with injuries or of reduced quality .ed)” laughed Nordahl-Pedersen.

Illustration: Averøy Seafood