AN offshore contractor says it has created 250 North-East jobs thanks to a major deal.

Heerema Fabrication Group, based in Hartlepool, is working on a contract for the Cygnus gas field development in the southern North Sea.

Cygnus is the largest southern gas basin discovery for 25 years, and bosses say it will produce enough gas for 1.5 million homes at its peak.

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Heerema is working on 1,640-tonne structures, known as wellhead topsides, for Cygnus Alpha.

Koos-Jan van Brouwershaven, Heerema chief executive, said: “The magnitude of the Cygnus project and the nearly completed first Cygnus topside at our yard shows how important it is to keep the offshore construction industry here.”

John Rogers, Cygnus project manager, added: “Cygnus is a flagship for the UK’s excellence in offshore design, engineering and construction.

“The project is creating 4,000 direct and indirect jobs across the UK during construction and will deliver five per cent of UK domestic gas production at its peak.

“Topside fabrication is on time and we're on track for the first installations at the end of April.”

The first gas is expected to be delivered from late 2015.