A GLOBAL oil services firm is set to shore up its presence in the region by opening a new office today (November 15) which is expected to create 100 North-East jobs in one of the key parts of its business over the next three years.

Aker Solutions invited Stockton South MP James Wharton to cut the ribbon on its new engineering drilling products office on the Preston Farm Industrial Estate, Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside, after the firm identified the region as having a concentration of high calibre candidates for the dozens of highly-skilled engineering jobs it is looking to fill.

The office will house product engineers who will be working on designing topside drilling equipment for the firm, which is one of the largest global suppliers of drilling equipment packages for offshore drilling rigs on both fixed and mobile units.

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The firm is looking to expand after continuing worldwide demand for its services, with business increasing particularly in the Gulf of Mexico and around South America, with drilling techniologies representing the largest part of the company’s business.

It is the second time the Norwegian-owned firm, which employs 25,000 people worldwide, has invested in the region, with the firm already employing 100 staff in an adjacent Stockton office in IT, accounting and human resources roles for the company’s global operations.

Ten engineers are already working in the new drilling products engineering hub, with further appointments underway.

The company plans to rapidly expand over the next five years, expecting to increase staff in drilling technologies from 3,000 to between 5,000 and 6,000, and expanding the firm’s global workforce to about 30,000.

Over the next three years Aker Solutions, which has had a presence in Stockton since 1986, aims to create up to 100 jobs in the new office, primarily engineers working on topside drilling products. The premises also houses a team that provides engineering support on platform upgrade and maintenance projects and the group’s specialist recruitment consultancy, Aker Advantage, also has an office in the town.

Alf-Rune Sørvollen, head of the new Stockton drilling technologies office, said: “We chose Stockton-on-Tees because of we knew the North East region has a proud industrial heritage with a huge engineering competence base. “This impression has been more than confirmed. In fact, we have interviewed almost 62 of the 122 that have so far applied for a job. That kind of applicant-to-interviewee ratio is very rare, which underlines the excellent competence level in the area.

“We are experiencing increased demand for our drilling products worldwide. Our team in Stockton-on-Tees will be an integral part of our global delivery model.”

Mr Wharton said: “There is a huge opportunity in this part of the region for successful investment and growth.

“It is testament to the people who work for Aker already that they have done such a good job that this company want to invest again here to take their company forward.

“They are high-level, high-quality jobs and are exactly the type of investment we want to bring to Teesside, and show the level of confidence Aker has in the area.

“We want to use this as a platform to show many others that they should be investing here, they should be investing in our young people and our professional people.”

The firm, which has annual revenues of £3.9bn, employs about 3,200 UK staff and is one of Scotland's largest employers with a workforce of more than 2,700 people in Aberdeen.

It is also in process of building up a significant engineering office in London and has smaller offices in Great Yarmouth, Hastings, Maidenhead, and Whitstable.