A NORTH EAST company which describes itself as "the Haynes manual of the process industry" is aiming to double its turnover and grow its workforce after winning a £6.25m contract in Australia.
Billingham-based engineering information management specialist Pearson-Harper has an initial three- year deal with oil and gas giant Chevron, which is developing the massive £26.5m Gorgon gas project off the coast of Western Australia.
The company is already recruiting 20 people in the North East to handle the contract to collect and manage the engineering data needed to build and operate the huge project. Pearson-Harper is also taking on four people to run its new Australian office in Perth.
Chief executive Steve Pearson is currently in Perth, where he says news of the deal is helping secure extra business for the North East.
He said: “We are winning more and more business on the strength of the Gorgon project – there are not many other projects of that scale in the world.
“The news is travelling around the area, so more and more people are talking to us. I have around 20 different meetings while I’m here.
“We have had six orders from five different companies. The projects going on in Australia are of a similar scale [when combined with the Gorgon deal]. They are orders of similar magnitude. We’ll be able to take more people on.”
Mr Pearson, an engineer who co-founded the company 18 years ago with Dave Harper, is now aiming to double Pearson-Harper’s £3m turnover in the next two to three years. It currently employs 35 people and the additional 20 needed for the Gorgon deal should be in place within the next six months.
Mr Pearson said: “Hopefully, it’s the start of something really big. For us, the initial phase is a three-year project but this facility has more life in it. As long as we do well, there should be more. We are running their hosted environment as well as the engineering information side.
“Imagine a big processing plant – our job is to pull together the data and documentation: millions of documents, tens of millions of pieces of data. It’s like the Haynes manual of the process industry.
“Staff and subcontractors from around the globe who are working on the Gorgon project need access to exactly the same engineering information set all of the time: ‘a single source of truth’.”
Around 90% of Pearson-Harper’s contracts are abroad, with clients including BP and Sabic, but the work is carried out in the North East.
Mr Pearson said: “We have work in Angola and Australia but a lot of projects are designed out of London.
“There is a lot of engineering talent in the North East, and what is really pleasing is that we can bring this work to the North East.”
Martyn Pellew, president of the North East Chamber of Commerce and non-executive director of Pearson-Harper, said: “This is a highly significant contract for both Pearson Harper and the North East. It heralds a step change for the company which, for almost 20 years, has been recognised as a leader in engineering information management.”