AN offshore fire and blast protection specialist has continued its expansion after creating jobs and launching a venture with a Philippines partner, The Northern Echo can reveal.

MTE Ltd, based in Darlington, has opened new offices to bolster its business development and design and engineering divisions.

The firm employs about 230 workers and has moved into Darlington's Morton Palms, which bosses say will boost its global position in the oil and gas fire and blast protection sectors.

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Its new offices add to MTE's existing headquarters in Darlington as well as manufacturing sites in the town and on the banks of Middlesbrough's River Tees, which specialise in the design and manufacturing of products to protect people from blast, fire and radiant heat hazards.

The company is also now working closely with Philippines-based offshore module fabricator AG&P, which MTE says will open up new markets thanks to its 150 hectare South-East Asian yard.

AG&P previously awarded MTE a £4.5m deal to supply carbon steel fire and blast walls to clad modules for the Australian Ichthys project.

Matthew Camp, MTE business manager, said its success, which has seen it take on about 60 workers in the last 12 months, has been further enhanced by financial growth that has seen turnover double to about £30m.

He said: “The business development team look at the long-term objectives and try to see where the markets are and how we can benefit from them.

“There is significant opportunity for us to continue our growth through design consultancy and project support.

“There is a lot we can offer here.

“Through our partnership with AG&P we have the design and engineering expertise from a European base coupled with the capabilities at the vast South-East Asian fabrication yard.

“It is combining the best of both experiences.

“We have benefited from being very agile and now see the opportunities by being proactive rather than responsive, building relationships and carrying out research and seeing projects where we can be effective.”

Last year, MTE expanded into Asia to unlock lucrative new markets by opening a factory in Busan, South Korea, to attract work from key Korean shipyards.

Mr Camp said the plant is opening new markets once dominated by Korean firms, with projects for Korean yards designed and engineering in the North-East and workers fabricating products in the UK and Busan.

The company has also worked on a number of high-profile projects, including a £2.5m deal to make external blast resistant ducting for the Clair Ridge project west of Shetland as well as doors, fire and blast walls for the Hebron platform, located offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.