Haskel Europe is hoping to strengthen its position in the rapidly growing oil and gas market of Angola, after securing a major new order.
The company, which has a manufacturing plant in Sunderland, has been asked to produce four test stations to check so-called Christmas trees used by a multinational company there on surface and subsea wells.
The Christmas tree, so named because the appearance given by its many spools and fittings, is a key piece of oil company equipment, which includes thousands of pipes and valves, many of which Haskel also supplies.
The company’s test stations will test every one of the pipes and valves attached to the tree to make sure they are performing properly.
The stations’ assembly is now complete and they will be shipped from Sunderland later this month.
Stephen Learney, Haskel Europe’s managing director, said: “Business in Angola’s oil and gas sector is buoyant.
“We’re delighted to be winning new contracts in Angola and other African countries, and as all the design, engineering and manufacturing work is completed at our Sunderland base it means more work for the North East and the UK.”
Haskel now exports to more than 50 countries and overseas sales made up 56% of its business last year.
One contract for Angola involved ‘environmentalising’ products to cope with conditions in the southern African country.
Sunderland-built air drive pumps and flushing rigs, which mimic what is happening at the bottom of the sea, where the oil and gas is being extracted, were exported to One Subsea in Angola.
Haskel Europe’s export manager Simon Calvert said: “We adapted it to suit the environmental conditions in Angola where the temperatures are up to 55 degrees and the desert is trying to get into the workshop. In this case, there is a chilling and cooling system.
“Each customer has a different requirement and each will be interpreted differently; we tweak the products to meet the customers’ demands, although the majority of the equipment is designed and is available off the shelf within short lead times.”
Angola is one of the “new” countries that Haskel has been targeting.
Its block of the sea was opened up for oil and gas exploration a decade ago, and oil and gas is now responsible for around 60 to 70% of the country’s exports.
“In Angola, there are very few other industries apart from oil and gas and diamond mining, and the oil and gas industry is growing exponentially,” Calvert added.
“Angola would probably be around one-fifteenth to one-twentieth of Haskel’s business and it’s growing.
“Five years ago, it accounted for very little.
“I would like it to be worth around £2m by 2015.”
Haskel, which was established in the North East in 1950, also has offices in Aberdeen, France and Spain.
In the summer, the company announced an innovative refuelling system manufactured at its Sunderland plant would be demonstrated to motoring journalists across Europe to show the potential of hydrogen-powered cars.