The OptiRAS pilot facility is being used to grow post-smolts at Bremnes Seashores' site at Skålevik.

OptiRAS maker sells 50% stake to build partner Leirvik

Move is a milestone in the company’s development says Searas general manager


Norwegian land-based fish farming innovator Searas has sold a 50% stake in the company to offshore engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firm Leirvik Group, based in Leirvik, south of Bergen.

The companies collaborated on the design and construction of the Searas “OptiRAS”, a self-contained aluminium RAS unit currently being used to grow large post-smolts at salmon farmer Bremnes Seashore’s Skålevik smolt facility in the same region.

Although founded on boat repairs, Leirvik AS says it has been the global frontrunner within deliveries of turnkey aluminium living quarters to the offshore oil and gas industry for more than 40 years, with almost all offshore hotels on the Norwegian Continental Shelf designed and constructed by the company. The aluminium OptiRAS was also constructed at the Leirvik shipyard.

Leirvik, which employs 250 people, has been looking to diversify into new areas, including aquaculture. Leirvik and Searas told LandbasedAQ - one of Fish Farming Expert’s Norwegian sister sites - that Leirvik Group AS will now develop Searas further together with the founders of the company. Leirvik Group AS is putting its entire investment in aquaculture into Searas.

Extensive experience

The first stocking of smolts in the OptiRAS pilot plant at Skålevik was carried out in early October 2023 and these fish will be stocked into marine pens in March/April this year. The development of the fish in the pilot plant is closely monitored, and so far the vet’s verdict is that the OptiRAS plant produces blemish-free fish.

“Based on the positive response in the market for the OptiRAS solution, the parties have found it appropriate to establish a separate company that will be responsible for the design, production, delivery and service of closed production facilities for fish. The company, which has been named OptiRAS AS, will be a 100% owned subsidiary of Searas AS,” said Searas general manager Eldar Lien.

“For Searas AS, this is a milestone in the company’s development in that we are now getting on board an industrial owner with extensive experience from large and complex EPC deliveries to offshore, and who enables us to take on the competition with other Norwegian and international suppliers of recirculation facilities.”

Leirvik chief executive Helge Gjøsæter said: “For Leirvik Group AS, this is an important strategic step in the investment in aquaculture and the shift towards new markets. Leirvik’s strength and expertise in implementing projects together with Searas AS’s strong technology and development environment within aquaculture are a very good match.”