A GLOBAL subsea firm, which has bases in the North-East, has bought a drilling rig to strengthen its position in the offshore energy market.

DeepOcean will work with Geoquip Marine AG in the North Sea as it looks to build foundations in the geotechnical services sector.

The deepwater rig can operate in depths of more than 600 metres and bosses say it will allow the company to win more oil and gas and renewable energy work.

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The firm specialises in trenchers, ploughs and remote-operated vehicles to dig seabed routes for pipes and cables.

Bart Heijermans, DeepOcean chief executive, said: “The offshore geotechnical services market is undersupplied.

"Through our alliance with Geoquip and its worldwide customers, we are well positioned to become a preferred provider and viable alternative to the current segment leader.

“We have several vessels in our fleet of 14 owned and chartered vessels that can deploy the geotechnical drilling rig and we are targeting a number of opportunities to get this started.”

The company has offices across the world, including sites in Darlington and Teesport, where it employs about 120 workers.

Last year, North-East bosses revealed it was playing a key role in the recovery of the stricken Costa Concordia liner, with its ADUSDeepOcean division supporting salvage attempts.

The company bought a 50 per cent stake in ADUS, a spin-out from the University of St Andrews and Dundee University, in Scotland, which creates 3D subsea wreck images.