A healthy heartbeat

THE process industry is the beating heart of Tees Valley’s business community.

Who's Who

THE process industry is the beating heart of Tees Valley’s business community.

It makes up a quarter of the region’s economy, employs tens of thousands of staff and has secured more than £1.5bn of investment in the past few years.

It is also a formidable blend of both old and new skills - traditional engineering and chemical production combined with hi-tech research and development of new industries.

We are setting the pace in cutting edgetechnology and leading the field in areas such as renewable energy.

And there is more to come.

The region’s process sector is predicted to benefit from £5bn of investment by 2012.

But it’s also an industry that’s been through dramatic change in recent times.

The sector was once dominated by ICI - which at its peak had more than 30,000 Teesside workers on its books.

Now employing less than 100 in the region, the ICI name has fallen to foreign hands after being taken over by Dutch rival Akzo Nobel - ending more than 80 years of British ownership for ICI.

But Tees Valley has shown strength and an ability to survive, weathering the storm with great success.

Other companies have moved in, pushed the industry forward and are investing millions in development.

Remaining the best when it comes to traditional skills the area has also embraced innovation and this is proving to be the secret of success.

But bringing new talent into the industry is key to its future prosperity.

nepic - the North East Process Industry Cluster - says the region faces a shortage of 20,000 workers in the process sector by 2014.

The organisation - which represents the region’s pharmaceutical, biotechnology, speciality, petrochemical and commodity chemical companies in the region - says finding new recruits and importing training is essential for the region to capitalise on potential investment in the sector.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has also said the North-east faces the very real prospect that by 2015, there will be a skills gap of about 13,000 engineers.

In recognition of the sector’s importance to the Tees Valley, the Evening Gazette launched its Pride In Our Process Industry initiative in 2007 - which will continue to run throughout 2008.

Part of the Tees Pride campaign, it has shone a light on this essential sector - which is the very bedrock of our industrial make-up.

It is clear we must encourage more people to consider a career in industry if Tees Valley is to reach its true potential.

During 2008 we’ll be focussing on the opportunities available for the new generation entering the profession.

Plus we’ll be looking at more of the major players making their mark, new industries coming to Teesside and the investment which is shaping our future.

Billions of pounds of investment means the future looks bright for Tees Valley’s process sector.

Teesside was recently named as the location for a £2bn ground-breaking project to process heavy crude oil.

The scheme represents the biggest single industry investment on Teesside and will be the first specialist plant of its type in Northern Europe.

But the ambitious project by UK-firm Sonhoe could help secure even more investment for Tees Valley.

Stan Higgins, chief executive of nepic, has said chemical companies could invest an extra £2bn to take advantage of products produced from the new specialist refinery.

Teesside was chosen for the project after 50 locations throughout the world were considered.

And industry leaders believe the ambition of the Tees Valley now must be to become the energy capital of Western Europe.

Previously untapped heavy crude oil from the North Sea, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and other oil-producing areas of the world will be shipped to Teesport.

The oil will feed the massive new specialist refinery - what industry experts refer to as an upgrader - to be built in the heart of the Wilton site.

It is hoped building work will start towards the end of 2009, creating 2,500 construction jobs.

The plant itself will create up to 450 new jobs plus a further 1,600 new posts will be created in support and service industries But there are many other major developments underway in the region’s process and chemical sector:

• Teesside is home to the UK’s biggest biofuels
plant - Biofuels Corporation’s £45m facility at
Seal Sands.

• Plans are underway to expand production
from 250,000 tonnes a year to 600,000,
making it one of the top producers in Europe.

• The Centre for Process Innovation at Wilton is
at the heart of some of the most progressive
research and development. The site is home
to the £12m National Industrial
Biotechnology Facility and the £1.5m Fuel
Cell Application Facility.

• ECCO Newsprint has plans for a £275m
paper mill at Wilton. The plant will
manufacture newsprint - paper used for
printing newspapers - from recycled
newspapers and magazines,

• SABIC is building a £200m polyethylene plant
at the Wilton International site - the largest of
its type in the world. The company has also
applied for planning permission for a new
polypropylene plant at Wilton and hopes to
secure £200m investment for Teesside.

It is clear we must encourage more people to consider a career in industry if Tees Valley is to reach its true potential.

During 2008 we’ll be focussing on the opportunities available for the new generation entering the profession.

Plus we’ll be looking at more of the major players making their mark, new industries coming to Teesside and the investment which is shaping our future.

Billions of pounds of investment means the future looks bright for Tees Valley’s process sector.

Teesside was recently named as the location for a £2bn ground-breaking project to process heavy crude oil.

The scheme represents the biggest single industry investment on Teesside and will be the first specialist plant of its type in Northern Europe.

But the ambitious project by UK-firm Sonhoe could help secure even more investment for Tees Valley.

Stan Higgins, chief executive of nepic, has said chemical companies could invest an extra £2bn to take advantage of products produced from the new specialist refinery.

Teesside was chosen for the project after 50 locations throughout the world were considered.

And industry leaders believe the ambition of the Tees Valley now must be to become the energy capital of Western Europe.

Previously untapped heavy crude oil from the North Sea, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and other oil-producing areas of the world will be shipped to Teesport.

The oil will feed the massive new specialist refinery - what industry experts refer to as an upgrader - to be built in the heart of the Wilton site.

It is hoped building work will start towards the end of 2009, creating 2,500 construction jobs.

The plant itself will create up to 450 new jobs plus a further 1,600 new posts will be created in support and service industries But there are many other major developments underway in the region’s process and chemical sector:

•  Teesside is home to the UK’s biggest biofuels
 plant - Biofuels Corporation’s £45m facility at
 Seal Sands.

•  Plans are underway to expand production
 from 250,000 tonnes a year to 600,000,
 making it one of the top producers in Europe.

•  The Centre for Process Innovation at Wilton is
 at the heart of some of the most progressive
 research and development. The site is home
 to the £12m National Industrial
 Biotechnology Facility and the £1.5m Fuel
 Cell Application Facility.

•  ECCO Newsprint has plans for a £275m
 paper mill at Wilton. The plant will
 manufacture newsprint - paper used for
 printing newspapers - from recycled
 newspapers and magazines,

•  SABIC is building a £200m polyethylene plant
 at the Wilton International site - the largest of
 its type in the world. The company has also
 applied for planning permission for a new
 polypropylene plant at Wilton and hopes to
 secure £200m investment for Teesside.

•  Work has begun on the £250m Ensus 1
 bioethanol plant at Wilton. The site will
 employ 100 staff when it becomes
 operational in 2009.

•  D1 Oils has started producing biofuels at
 its Middlesbrough base. The company has
 also signed an £80m joint venture deal
 with BP to plant one million hectares of
 renewable energy crops in the next four
 years.

•  SembCorp has invested £60m in its Wilton
 10 biomass power station. This is the UK’s
 first large-scale biomass power station to
 use wood as its renewable fuel source. It
 has also invested £36m in a new combined
 heat and power plant to enhance its supply
 of utilities at the Wilton International site.

Manufacturing also continues to play a key role in the region’s economy.

But this is a sector that has been hit by significant job losses in recent years.

There has also been good news and reports have said the sector is experiencing strong production levels.

The EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, recently said figures showed the highest output and order balances since the first quarter of 1995.

There also was a significant increase in investment intentions and a further rise in the number of companies recruiting or planning to do so.

Steel making remains a major employer in the region - with 2,700 people working at plants in the Tees Valley.

The £6.2bn acquisition of Anglo-Dutch company Corus by Indian giant Tata has created the world’s fifth largest steel producer.

The economic importance of steel is huge - up to 30,000 indirect jobs are wholly or partly reliant on the local steel industry.

More than four years ago the future looked bleak as Corus said it no longer needed the region’s steel.

But a crucial consortium of global companies was struck, safeguarding the future of Teesside steel for ten years.

And a direct rail link between Teesside’s steel works and Teesport is continuing to reap rewards with record exports reported.

Other local manufacturers have also reported good news.

TMD Friction UK recently announced its was creating 68 new jobs at its site in Hartlepool as part of a £2m expansion plan.

The investment will help expand production capability and increase the output of the Hartlepool factory from 20 million to 25 million brake pads every year.

Marlow Foods is investing £35m in one of its Teesside factories to significantly increase its capacity to support the rapid growth of meat substitute Quorn.

Branston Pickle-to-Oxo stock cube maker Premier Foods - which owns Marlow Foods - is making the multi-million pound investment in a new fermentation plant at its Belasis factory in Billingham.

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