Long term investment plans at North East engineering giant British Engines remain firmly in place despite the business considering a number of job losses, directors insist.
The major employer, which has 1,500 staff across six regional factories, has confirmed a small number of jobs – less than 25 – are potentially in jeopardy across the group.
A consultation period is under way with those affected and Richard Dodd, chief operating officer, has cited challenges in the oil and gas industry, triggered by tumbling crude oil prices, as the reason for the decision.
But he stressed that the firm’s long term investment schemes – including the creation of a £10m sub-sea engineering centre of excellent – will not be affected by the announcement.
Mr Dodd said: “It is no secret that the oil and gas industry is experiencing tough times.
“As a result of this, it is with regret that we have had to put a small number of roles at risk of redundancy within the British Engines Group. We currently employ more than 1,200 people in the north east and the number of roles at risk is less than 25.
“We are being told by the industry that this period of harder times will last for around 18 months to two years, and we are reacting accordingly. This will not have an impact on our longer term investment plans.”
Last year the firm, which has factories in Cramlington, South Shields, Bishop Auckland, Durham, St Peter’s Basin in Newcastle and Gateshead, announced plans for the £10m Neptune Test Centre, set to be created on the derelict Spillers Tyne Mill site on Newcastle’s Quayside.
The centre of excellence will act as a catalyst for jobs when it becomes the first commercial facility of its kind in the world, housing four hyperbaric chambers that simulate the environment of subsea depths up to 4,500m, and
The multi-million pound scheme is backed by Newcastle University and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and is set to start this year with the help of £5m Regional Growth Fund cash.
Two of the sub-sea chambers would be owned by BEL Valves and the third by Newcastle University.
The sub-sea centre announcement came a year after the firm secured an £800,000 grant through The Journal’s Let’s Grow Regional Growth Fund, to redevelop and grow its Tyneside base.
The potential redundancies announcement follows Chancellor George Osborne’s final Budget before the general election, in which he pledged to take action to protect those affected by sliding oil prices.
He said: “Falling oil prices are good news for families but brings with it challenges for 100s of 1000s of live which depend on the North Sea.”
He announced a £1.3bn package of support for the oil and gas industry including a cut in the supplementary charge on oil industry companies’ profits from 30% to 20%, backdated to January, reversing a hike in the 2011 Budget when oil prices were much higher.