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Oil & Gas
With more than 70% of the oil and gas platforms operating in the North Sea having been built in North East England, backed up by vast storage, handling and refining facilities, the area is a major centre for the industry in the UK.
Across the North East around 65,000 people work in the sector, and with the continuing high global demand for energy the area offers substantial business opportunities.
The North East has an enviable reputation for world-beating subsea technology – for which it is a UK centre of excellence – as well as platform design and maintenance.
Its proximity to the North Sea oil and gas fields attracts some of the leading energy, engineering and design companies involved in the sector. The inherent knowledge and skills of the area’s workforce enables these businesses to offer products and services to customers worldwide.
The School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University carries out collaborative research with industrial partners from across Europe.
At Durham University the Centre for Research into Earth Energy Systems carries out research of direct relevance to industry in such fields as digital mapping, well site geology and drilling technologies.
The Marine Design Centre in Newcastle provides a showcase for next-generation platforms and subsea technologies, and fosters industrial collaboration and networking.
NOF Energy, based in Durham, represents over 330 companies involved in the sector, providing business support, networking opportunities and market intelligence.
In Blyth, Northumberland, the New and Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) has a Marine Test Facility, offering technical support for subsea R&D and testing capabilities for a range of new technologies.
Oil & Gas
Areas of Expertise
More than 50 companies, some of which are market leaders in technological innovation in the subsea sector, are based in North East England.
They include firms such as SMD Hydrovision in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, which has supplied customers globally with world-leading remote operating vehicles (ROVs) and seabed trenching machines.
At the forefront of designing advanced equipment are two Northumberland companies. PDL Group, in Hexham, is involved in subsea platforms and technologies, while IHC Engineering Business in Stocksfield is at the cutting edge of ROVs.
To ensure the area maintains its leading world position, Subsea NE brings together firms involved in the supply chain and university specialists to accelerate the development of next generation technologies and identify emerging market opportunities.
One field in which the North East has specialist knowledge, for example, is in the development of subsea pipe technologies.
Wellstream, a producer of equipment for deep sea drilling, has created a corrosion-resistant FlexSteel pipe system, based on revolutionary technology, able to extract oil at depths of over 2,000 metres. It developed this in its design and manufacturing plant at Walker Riverside, Newcastle.
At the same location is Duco, another major subsea manufacturer, which produces plastic-based umbilicals for oil and gas fields across the world.
Other specialist suppliers include BEL Valves, based in Newcastle, a maker of valves and controls for major energy suppliers such as BP, ExxonMobil and Shell. Pespen Integrity, a global provider of engineering and management services also based in Newcastle, has developed inspection and maintenance techniques for subsea facilities.
The North East has developed an excellent track record in platform maintenance and has a substantial infrastructure for these activities.
The Tyne and Tees rivers as well as the port of Hartlepool have, for example, excellent dockyard and other facilities for work on platforms.
The North East’s prominent position in the industry has attracted major maintenance companies such as Belgian group Fabricom Suez. This has opened a design and engineering office in North Tyneside.
Dutch owned fabrication firm Heerema operates two docks at Hartlepool. And fellow Dutch group Hertel has offices in Tees Valley where it designs state-of-the-art accommodation units and laboratories for rigs and other vessels.
Meanwhile, leading UK rig design and manufacturing company RDS has opened an office in Stockton, in Tees Valley.
One of the most important companies operating in the platform maintenance field is AMEC. It has opened a leading edge design and engineering centre at Wynyard Park, north of Stockton, employing over 300 people.
In one of Amec’s biggest projects, being carried out through a joint venture with another Dutch firm, NAM, it is modifying and raising the long-term performance of 50 offshore gas platforms and two gas plants for Shell.
There is a high concentration of design engineering firms in the North East. These include both major global companies and locally developed businesses that have grown with the area’s extensive involvement in North Sea oil and gas operations.
One of the leading multinational firms is Foster Wheeler, which operates project management services from its operation at Riverside Park, Middlesbrough.
Norwegian firm Aker Solutions has a large office in Stockton offering engineering and construction services, from where it has won an important contract to provide subsea control frameworks to Maersk Oil.
Among the locally developed companies is Mech-Tool based in Darlington. Mech-Tool designs and manufactures high-integrity explosion protection systems for clients who include ExxonMobil, Shell and PetroCanada.
Mech-Tool has a quayside facility on the River Tees at Middlesbrough which enables it to assemble large structures that can then be transported directly by sea to offshore locations.
Seawall Engineering offers engineering services from a new design centre it has created, with the support of a £200,000 grant from One North East, at the New and Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth.
Other firms offering engineering services for oil and gas rigs include Phoenix Beattie, in Ashington, Northumberland, which provides automated fluid handling systems. And Wilton Engineering in Middlesbrough is involved in designing and making high quality fabrications.
Major oil terminals, refining, storage and fuel distribution complexes have an important presence in the North East, and are operated by some of the biggest names in the petrochemical industry.
A £2 billion state-of-the-art refinery is under construction at Wilton International in Tees Valley by the London-based Sonhoe group.
This is the largest project of its kind in Western Europe in the past decade. The refinery, scheduled to come on stream in 2014, will have the capacity to process 200,000 barrels of oil a day. This will be turned into low-sulphur diesel, naphtha and kerosene.
The oil will be sourced from North Sea reserves that have previously been untapped and from other fields around the world. Sonhoe chose to build the plant at Wilton because of the deep-water port facilities on the Tees and its proximity to the North Sea oil wells.
A unique feature of the refinery is that it has been designed to be self-sufficient in its power and hydrogen needs. By 2015 it will supply around 10% of the shortfall of diesel needed in Europe.
Among the other major installations in Tees Valley is the ConocoPhillips oil terminal at Seal Sands, at the mouth of the Tees. It receives oil from several UK and Norwegian fields in the North Sea. The plant processes 67,000 barrels of oil a day, storing and exporting natural gases such as ethane, propane and butane.
Another important part of the North East’s oil and gas infrastructure is the terminal operated by Shell at Jarrow on the mouth of the Tyne.
The North East’s extensive involvement in the North Sea oil and gas industry has enabled the area to develop a comprehensive range of ancillary service companies.
A huge range of engineering companies, many with specialist oil and gas industry capabilities, manufacture and service equipment of all kinds – from large platform fabrications to hydraulic pumps, valves and lubricants.
One of the key locations for ancillary activities is the Offshore Technology Park at Walker Riverside, Newcastle.
Shepherd Offshore operates a supply base at the park which has deep water berthing, hammerhead cranes for large lifting needs, and facilities for mobilising and demobilising vessels of all kinds.
The company provides a supply chain management and logistics service from the support base, which is dedicated to handling all types of offshore related materials and other cargoes.
Oil & Gas
Key Facts & Figures
- Sonhoe is building a £2 billion state-of-the-art refinery at Wilton International in Tees Valley that is the biggest project of its kind in Western Europe for the past decade.
- More than 70% of the oil and gas platforms operating in the North Sea have been built in North East England.
- SMD Hydrovision at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, is a world leader in the design and manufacture of remote controlled subsea vehicles.
- AMEC has opened a leading edge design and engineering centre for offshore platforms at Wynyard Park, in Tees Valley, employing over 300 people.
- The North East subsea industry is a UK centre of excellence.
- FlexSteel, a corrosion-resistant flexible pipe system for subsea use, was developed by Wellstream at its design and manufacturing plant in Newcastle.
- The ports of Tyne, Tees and Blyth provide deep-water facilities that enable the transporting of platforms and large equipment to North Sea oilfields and others across the world.
- NOF Energy, based in Durham, has helped more than 300 member companies win more than £30 million of additional contracts in recent years.
- The North East is home to some of the biggest global names in platform maintenance, including Fabricom Suez and Heerema.
- The Marine Design Centre in Newcastle provides a showcase for next-generation platforms and subsea technologies.
Oil & Gas
The North Sea is the UK’s premier oil and gas field, with reserves expected to last for at least the next 25-30 years. North East England is one of only a few sub-sea centres of excellence in the UK, with over 50 companies in the region.
In the oil & gas sector the region offers significant business opportunities at a time of high worldwide growth in demand and a shortage in capacity. The region has a long and enviable track record in the sector, with excellent infrastructure and a highly skilled and experienced workforce.
Over 70% of the platforms operating in the North Sea were built on the region’s major rivers: the Tyne and the Tees. The most recent regional projects were the Encana Buzzard (Heerema), Shell Bonga FPSO and BP Claire (Amec).
Specialist sub-sectors in the region include flexible products and pipelines, sub-sea fabrication, sub-sea renewable energy, pipeline engineering, sub-sea inspection robotics, deposition and burial services, cable and pipeline trenching, and sub-sea ploughs and trenchers.
NOF Energy is the leading business development organisation for companies involved in the UK oil, gas, nuclear and offshore wind sectors.
NOF Energy has a long history of providing business support to the UK oil, gas and energy industries. As a proactive industry-led organisation, we have now achieved unrivalled success in supporting companies not just in the UK market but also internationally.
The new £2.3m Marine Design Centre in Newcastle is a cutting-edge centre of excellence for marine engineering.
It offers specialist training, seminars and networking opportunities dedicated to the specific needs of the marine sector, as well as access to the latest and most sophisticated software for designers.
It allows partner organisations to find new markets, grow market share and gain competitive advantage. It offers:
- a Common User Facility that allows partners to collaborate on-site on exciting and challenging projects
- specialist training, seminars and networking opportunities dedicated totally to the needs of the marine design sector
- market intelligence on new contracts and opportunities anywhere in the world
- access to some of the world’s most sophisticated software packages designed specifically for the marine design sector
- an open-door policy to universities and colleges allowing them to work hand in hand with the business sector, including the potential for student work placements and graduate employment
- links with other trade bodies and specialist organisations which are associated with the marine design sector
The Marine Design Centre reflects the new confidence, dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit that exists in the North East of England and which is now stretching out to the rest of the world.
Oil & Gas
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