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MTE, based in Darlington, opens plant in South Korea to win shipyard work
The Forties Alpha platform in the North Sea. MTE made fire, blast and heatshield protection for modules and staircases on the giant structure
A NORTH-EAST offshore protection specialist is expanding into Asia to unlock lucrative new markets.
MTE Ltd, based in Darlington, has opened a factory in Busan, South Korea, as it looks to attract new work from key Korean shipyards.
The company, which makes fire and blast protection for oil and gas platforms, says the plant will build on its worldwide reputation by strengthening its North-East base and opening markets dominated by Korean firms.
Bosses say projects for the Korean yards will be designed and engineered in the North-East, with workers fabricating fire and blast protection products in the UK and Busan.
The firm, also known as Mech-Tool Engineering, employs more than 170 workers and has a second manufacturing base on the banks of the River Tees, in Middlesbrough.
It has worked on a number of high-profile projects, including a £1m deal to make fire, blast and heat shield protection for modules and staircases on the Forties Alpha platform, which was the UK's first custom-made North Sea platform for 25 years.
Phil Bullock, Mech-Tool's Korea director, said the company hopes the Asian move will provide the catalyst for a number of new contracts.
He said: “This is a considerable investment for us, and the plant will be manufacturing fire and blast protection systems as we do here but on a larger scale.
“It will also help in securing work from South-East Asia.
“The set-up over there is for the company to win work that we would never have got previously, as many of the Korean yards only award work to Korean companies.
“But it will also generate work for us here because the design and engineering for work won in Korea will take place in the North-East, as will much of the fabrication, so it strengthens our business and creates additional work that we would never have had.”
The company is split into four divisions; fire and blast wall sector, a heat shield division protecting workers against radiant heat and extreme weather, its pioneering module and living quarters design team, and its design consultancy arm, which works with clients on designs and cost projections.
Earlier this year, it secured a £4.5m Philippines contract to supply 25,000sq metres of carbon steel fire and blast walls for onshore modules in Australia.
It is also making fire blast walls for ExxonMobil's Hebron oil project, off Canada's east coast, which is expected to produce up to 150,000 barrels of oil every day from 2017, and heatshields for platforms for oil and gas specialist Jurunature in the South China Sea.
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