A MARINE engineering firm is expanding into a second factory in a move bosses hope will support the creation of North-East jobs.

Tekmar Energy is transferring production to the former Tetley tea warehouse in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

The company, whose products protect offshore wind farms, is already based in Aycliffe employing about 75 people, and expects to move into the new site by June.

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It will retain its existing base in Aycliffe, which stands just yards away from the Tetley depot.

Bosses say the 90,000sq ft distribution site will allow the firm to push on with plans to return to the oil and gas market and generate revenues of £15m from those operations by 2016.

The company has worked on some of Europe's most high-profile energy developments, specialising in subsea cable protection.

Its expansion plans are part of wider ambitions to increase overall turnover from £22m to about £50m and create between 30 and 50 jobs.

Last year, bosses also told The Northern Echo they wanted to build a research and development centre to continue strengthening its order book.

James Ritchie, Tekmar's chief executive, said: “This expansion will enable us to expand our offerings in the oil and gas sector, while continuing to grow our presence in the offshore wind sector.

“It is very satisfying to be able to create new jobs in the North-East, and it demonstrates there are opportunities for skilled people in this region and that it is an attractive proposition for engineers and skilled technicians looking to develop their careers.

“We operate in a global market and this investment will enable us to maintain and grow our position in the supply chain by building on our impressive track record.

“We are very proud to be at the forefront of the subsea technology sector and this growth demonstrates the increasingly prominent role UK companies have in the energy sector supply chain.”

Last week, the firm revealed a contract with Van Oord to supply cable protection for the 43-turbine Eneco Luchterduinen wind farm, off the Netherlands', which is capable of powering about 150,000 homes.

Tekmar has also provided cable protection for the 80-turbine Meerwind wind farm, in the German North Sea.

Its move into the former Tetley base has been supported by chartered surveyors Bradley Hall, which has offices in Durham City and Newcastle.

Neil Hart, Bradley Hall director, said: “Demand for large industrial space in the region seems to be growing and that can only be good for the North-East economy.”