Wallsend shipyard site gearing up for jobs

WORK at a former Tyneside shipyard could soon be gearing up following news of an official rebranding for its occupier.

WORK at a former Tyneside shipyard could soon be gearing up following news of an official rebranding for its occupier.

The Hadrian Yard in Wallsend has not been handling projects since the completion of SLP’s work on the Babbage oil and gas platform in September 2009.

Owner Shepherd Offshore had leased the yard to SLP, who talked about turning the site into a major manufacturing base earlier that year. However, sections of the SLP Group went into administration in November.

The collapse affected SLP Energy, SLP Holdings and the Lowestoft-based SLP Engineering, which was bought by Smulders Group of the Netherlands in August this year.

The Tyneside-based operation, called SLP Production, was not affected by the administration, but announced yesterday it is now re-launching as Offshore Group Newcastle Ltd to differentiate it from its former stable-mate.

Business development manager Russell Harper said: “The management of SLP Production has been assisting the administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers in selling the SLP Engineering business, but SLP Production itself was never in administration.

“A core of staff were retained on Tyneside, but there were no ongoing projects during that time.”

Key management from SLP Production, such as chairman Dennis Clark, CEO David Edwards, chief commercial officer Craig Melville and chief technical officer Graham Kennedy, are still with the company after the name change.

Before its completion last year, 200 people were employed on the yard to work on the Babbage project.

OGN has a core staff of 25 people, but up to 40 engineers have recently been drafted in to work on a feed study for the Apache Forties satellite production platform in the North Sea. OGN has also tendered for construction work on the project, which could bring in “hundreds” of jobs.

Harper said: “We are actively pursuing opportunities in the oil and gas and renewable sectors.

“The vast majority of employees will be directly employed on a project basis, but continuity of projects means continuity of jobs. The facility is capable of housing two or three projects simultaneously.

“We’re looking towards an equable split between the two sectors, particularly in connection with Round 3 offshore projects.

“The Tyneside facility is better suited to larger projects, and is a lot larger than Lowestoft.

“Many of the Round 3 projects will require hundreds of turbines and, therefore, hundreds of foundations, and the foundations will be much more complex than those for shallow water. There’s no substitute in that respect for sheer acreage.

“My perception is that the opportunities are now healthier than they were in 2008 and 2009.”


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