A NORTH Tyneside company has picked up £1.3m in contracts since securing the exclusive UK licence to make and supply fire protection units which are used in gas facilities.
Barrier Fire Protection manufactures and distributes the patented Benarx F Epoxy fire protection box, which guards instruments and components against explosions.
The equipment, invented in Norway, is a new method of protecting onshore gas equipment in the event of a leak, causing a fire.
They can be manufactured to a thicknesses of between 6mm and 20mm and are covered in an expanding coating. If there is a fire, the epoxy coating spreads to create a tight barrier between the flames and the protected units.
Barrier Fire Protection managing director, Steve May, said: “It was a completely revolutionary system for the protection of valves, pipework and flanges
“Initially, it was a market that needed to be opened up and explored. We looked at it and said there is an opportunity to use this in the UK and the rest of Europe.
“We have pushed and it is now accepted by companies like Conoco and BP.”
One of the first contracts secured by the Wallsend company was to make and supply 1,000 boxes for installation at the Teesside Gas Processing Plant, plus a further 100 for the Sullom Voe oil and liquefied gas terminal in the Shetland Islands and 500 for project for Centrica in York.
May believes the worldwide market for the boxes is potentially worth £2m a year. The business is looking at overseas schemes in Equatorial Guinea and Papua New Guinea.
“We have to identify what a country wants and the protection levels required,” said May.
“In the Middle East, Qatar or Abu Dhabi, there is also a definite need as there is a lot of imported gas. We have had to operate in things like this to get an edge of the market.
“Barrier has built an excellent reputation in the fire protection and coatings marketplaces and this additional offering has further strengthened our position. We don’t just manufacture the boxes.
“We do a lot of onshore and offshore new- build coating work. The boxes are a very pleasant add-on.”
Staff numbers at the business, part of the Barrier Group headquartered at Willington Quay, vary between 40 to 50. The head-count rose to 76 at one point last year.
The Barrier Group was set up in 1975 and has completed more than 200 major contracts with clients including Esso, BP, British Gas and the Sizewell B Power Station in the UK, and overseas, it has worked for customers across Europe, Canada and the Middle East.