Aberdeen Based Oil Worker Made Redundant Turns His Skills to Hand Sanitiser to Solve Supply Shortage

An Aberdeen based oil worker has launched a hand sanitiser business that can supply tens of thousands of litres of premium hand sanitiser gel to local companies.

Marko Steiger was a Fluids Engineer with Halliburton until Covid-19 hit, and he found out he was in line to be laid off as part of hundreds of job cuts made by his employer.

Having finished his MSc. In petroleum geology from the University of Aberdeen, Marko was fortunate to land a position with Halliburton where he was sent to mud school in Houston, gaining qualifications in performance drilling fluids engineering.

Having started with Halliburton only in September 2019 he didn’t expect to be back on the job search quite so soon but Halliburton have let go of several of his colleagues that all started at the same time in response to the current huge downturn in the drilling sector.

Keen to put his training and skills to use, but facing being out of work, Marko has turned his hand to producing hand sanitiser gel and has quickly scaled up due to overwhelming demand. The newly formed company, Palm Safe, is launching a consumer range but is also able to deliver in bulk and can supply thousands of litres of alcohol gel to businesses and companies throughout the UK.

The complete consumer range offered by Palm Safe Aberdeen

Speaking to Energy People, Marko said “At first it started as a side project with my housemate, we both have some friends that work in healthcare and they were struggling to get hand sanitiser, so we started researching and experimenting. A lot of companies are selling the simple hand sanitiser recommended by the world health organisation. It is easy to make and functional, but it can be pretty harsh on the skin when used frequently. We bought some equipment and essentially turned our kitchen into a science lab.”

“At work I mix chemicals and create reactions. The process for hand sanitiser gel is not much different. To get the sanitiser to gel is a bit of a fine balance and it took some experimenting to get it right. The alcohol concentration is also important, and we have made the hand sanitiser 70% alcohol by volume which is strong compared to some of the other options available on the market. Aloe Vera helps moisturise the skin and counter the effect of the alcohol and our consumer range is scented to leave the hands smelling nice and fresh.”

“The biggest issue we have had has been sourcing alcohol, global demand is off the scale and the cost of alcohol has gone up over 600%. Even the cost of bottles has tripled due to a supply shortage from China. As the raw cost of the ingredients comes down after the current crisis, we will adjust our pricing accordingly to stay competitive.”

“We have also partnered with a local business with all the necessary approvals, licenses and safety documentation to speed up our coming to market. Through that partnership we can supply hand sanitisation stations, alcohol wipes and N95 masks also.”

Marko has been donating hand sanitiser to NHS workers and local care home staff but has also set up a basic shopify website to sell the consumer range while he waits for his company website to go live. Local contactless collection is available in Aberdeen or it can be shipped within the UK. www.handsanitisegel.co.uk

L&M Stores Premier on Hutcheon Street in Aberdeen is the first local store to stock the consumer range so those not wishing to purchase online can find the full range available there on the counter.