DeepOcean to shed North East jobs as oil industry crisis spreads

The subsea engineering specialists confirmed expected redundancies amidst falling oil prices and lack of renewables work

Equipment at DeepOcean
Equipment at DeepOcean

At least 45 jobs are under threat of redundancy across the North East operations of subsea engineers DeepOcean.

Earlier this month the Dutch firm announced a major reorganisation of its global operations in light of falling world oil prices and a lack of available renewable energy work.

The company has now confirmed 45 jobs are at risk of redundancy between its Darlington offices and Teesport Commerce Park bases – roughly 30% of DeepOcean’s workforce.

A further 29 offshore roles with the firm are at risk from approximately 146 staff in the division.

DeepOcean said a collective consultancy process is now under way across the business, with exact numbers of redundancies due to be finalised in late February.

DeepOcean specialises in trench digging, cable installation and maintenance services to the oil and gas and renewables industries.

The firm uses its UK Marine Base at Teesport Commerce Park to mobilise and store equipment.

Tony Inglis, DeepOcean’s UK managing director, said the firm had been forced to take action due to a shortfall in work.

Speaking to the Journal, Mr Inglis said the firm had four “major” wind industry tenders in action but said the Government must do more to put pressure on developers to drive supply chain content through UK suppliers.

He said: “We’re competitive and have been for some time. The Government has high expectations for UK content that aren’t being realised at all.

“The UK general public is subsidising wind farm developments through subsidies – but with a lack of work distributed to UK-based companies, we have to ask what is the public actually paying for?”

Mr Inglis also hailed the “tremendous” skills base in the North East and expressed hope that his firm would once again be in a position to recruit as the industry recovered.

Speaking to The Journal earlier this month, DeepOcean’s chief executive officer, Bart Heijermans explained the reasons behind the reorganisation.

He said: “A lot of work on wind projects has been awarded to European firms, in the likes of the Netherlands and Belgium, with little or no presence in the UK, and that’s disappointing for us.

“We’ve invested a lot of money in our operations, in Darlington and elsewhere, because business was booming – but recent developments in the international oil price have significantly weakened the market and there is less work.

“We have to make sound judgements and make sure we get it right as we want to have a strong business in Darlington in the long term.

“We’re hopeful this downturn will pass and the market will pick up again – at which point we recruit again.

“I believe this will happen, but we have to take precautions in the short term.”

The reorganisation has split Deep Ocean into two main areas of operation: the Greater North Sea (GNS) and International.

Under its newly-created GNS function, DeepOcean intends to merge activities in Norway, the Netherlands and the UK – with the aim to expand its share of the inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) and surveying markets.

The firm also said it would focus on securing more renewables and decommissioning work.

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