OIL and gas engineering firm, FES International, has signed its largest ever single project off the Western Australian coast, which will land the company more than £6m.
The Blyth-based company, which specialises in manufacturing fluid transfer systems for subsea oil and gas extraction, will provide its bespoke diverless bend stiffener connectors (DBSCs) for the world-class Ichthys gas project.
The DBSCs need to be designed for a subsea service life of 40 years. The project’s long life makes it a particularly demanding challenge, as FES’s solution has to be robust and resistant to corrosion and marine growth.
The UK firm began pursuing the contract in December 2010, and has since trebled its turnover to just over £16m this year.
This latest win is timely as the company prepares to move into premises seven times larger than its existing space on January 18.
It is shifting from Riverside Business Park to a 35,000sqft workshop in North Seaton Industrial Estate after securing a number of new orders in 2012.
FES managing director Rob Anderson said: “This move is probably the biggest investment we’ve made in the last 12 or 15 years of the business. We’ve been in the existing premises for 12 years, but we’ve really grown out of them.
“We’re on the cusp of signing some big deals in Singapore and Europe with a combined value of up to £20m, so we really need the extra space at our disposal.
“The Australia contract is the largest single contract for this product in the history of the oil and gas sector. In terms of the number of connectors, we are blazing an industry trail.
“In the simplest sense, these connectors are similar to the stiff bit of plastic that stops a cable getting bent on a domestic iron or kettle. Of course, what we are manufacturing is more complex and a lot more robust.”
FES will deliver around 50 DBSCs and ancillary equipment for the central processing facility and the floating production vessel off the Australian Coast. The connectors will be produced in phased delivery between October 2013 and September 2014. The Ichthys gas project is a joint venture between INPEX (Operator), TOTAL and other participants.
The project is expected to produce 8.4m tonnes of liquefied natural gas and 1.6m tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas per annum, along with approximately 100,000 barrels of condensate per day at peak.
Anderson said: “We currently have 30 full-time employees in the North East but the Australia project means there could be up to 200 people working on the project for us. All work will be done within a 25-mile radius of Newcastle and that will not only sustain us but also local supply businesses.
“We’ve invested millions of pounds in our new premises and we wouldn’t be making such a large investment if the market wasn’t buoyant for us. We have secured some long-term contracts with projects running over a period of 15 to 18 months, which is good for staff security.”