Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Engineering Boom for North East

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Engineering Boom for North East

Article excerpt

Byline: John Hill

AN offshore engineering specialist has said it is expecting "significant growth" in the next couple of years after signing contracts worth pounds 100m.

IHC Engineering Business employs 180 people in Stocksfield, Northumberland, and at the Port of Tyne, and is excited about growth in markets such as offshore pipe-laying for the oil and gas industry.

It has developed a range of subsea vehicles designed for the offshore wind industry, and expects to agree a deal with a launch client this year. Managing director Neil Baxter said the company is looking to expand its North East workforce by around 20%, but admitted there would be scope for more eye-opening growth if it could attract enough qualified engineers.

"We could win enough work to double the output team in the business today." he said.

In 2007, investment was made in the design of a new range of pipe-laying equipment. This added focus required the hiring of different types of talent including experienced structural engineers, but has paid dividends to the extent it now makes up a big proportion of the business.

Earlier this month, IHC signed a deal with SapuraCrest to design and build two 550-tonne pipelaying vessels, while a third contract for a 300-tonne vessel had been agreed with OSX Construcao Naval SA Brazil. They are worth more than pounds 100m.

Past projects include the creation of a 2,000-tonne capacity tower for Saipem, which is 65m tall and can handle pipes from four inches to 36 inches in diameter.

Baxter said: "We've moved from scratch to a position where we're either equal or leading in the offshore pipelay sector.

"We've taken on two very large contracts for pipelay equipment and one medium one, having never done something like that just a few years ago.

"There are now two major players including us, and a couple of more minor ones. …

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