A SUBSEA firm is supporting hundreds of North-East jobs in a new factory.

Technip Umbilicals has opened a steel tube plant, which it says is the most advanced of its kind in the world.

Bosses say the factory has already secured orders for the next year.

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The company designs and makes steel tube and thermoplastic umbilicals, used to connect subsea equipment to platforms in the oil and gas market.

Bosses say the site will strengthen its position in the subsea sector, which is seeing firms operate at greater water depths, by producing longer umbilicals and components.

The plant, at Walker Riverside, in Newcastle, has been backed by the Government's Regional Growth Fund, and is supporting more than 150 jobs.

Technip Umbilicals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Technip, already operates a North-East site employing 600 workers.

Jean-Louis Rostaing, Technip Umbilicals' managing director, said: “We are a leading player in umbilical technology with a track record for large and complex dynamic systems, including the world's largest and heaviest umbilical.

“This investment in advanced steel tube umbilicals is aimed at satisfying future market demand for deep water and large complex systems.

“There is already strong market demand with more than a year's worth of orders already booked into the new plant.

“The fact the technology is housed in what is believed to be one of Europe’s tallest single floor buildings says everything about our ambition too.

“It will contribute to consolidating our position in the sector by ensuring we have the capacity and capability to meet clients’ needs for both steel tube and thermoplastic umbilicals.

“With this fantastic facility, backed by a world-class workforce, we can look forward to the future with great anticipation and confidence.”

Mr Rostaing added Technip's North-East base was perfect for its operations, with a deep water berth and close links to Norwegian, southern North Sea and European fields providing easier access for work.