NORTH-EAST subsea workers face an anxious wait after a company revealed plans to cut jobs.

DeepOcean, which employs about 150 workers in its UK division across Darlington and Teesside, is looking to shed staff.

The firm has blamed the decision on contract snubs in UK offshore developments and falling oil prices.

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DeepOcean UK provides services to dig trenches and lay underwater cabling on power projects.

Last night, the company, which has offices in Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, and a marine base at South Bank, near Middlesbrough, said it couldn’t confirm how many North-East staff will be affected.

However, Bart Heijermans, chief executive, said it was not looking to leave the region.

Mr Heijermans said the firm had been forced to re-organise its global divisions, which include sites in The Netherlands, Norway, Brazil and Mexico, to stay competitive.

He revealed the company has split into two main operations, with one focused on the greater North Sea region (GNS) and another looking at international work.

Speaking to The Northern Echo from DeepOcean’s offices in The Netherlands, Mr Heijermans said: “We are looking at headcount reduction across the board in all of our countries.

“We’ve had a couple of good years, but we now need to re-position the business so it can have more good years in the future.

“The price of oil has fallen so we have to adjust, and quite a lot of the offshore wind farm work has been contracted to non-UK companies.

“We have been investing out of Darlington in new trenchers and vessels to be positioned for work.

“But for some reason, work is not coming to this region and is going out of the UK instead.

“It is disappointing because we are a strong employer in this region, yet work has gone to Belgium, Denmark and Holland.”

The changes come nearly three years after Mr Heijermans launched a turnaround plan at the firm’s Coniscliffe Road offices to re-assert DeepOceanUK, formerly known as CTC Marine, into an industry leader.

Back in February 2012, he said it needed to “reverse the bleeding” following a number of marginal contracts that had left it trailing rivals.

It has since won a number of deals, including work on the £1bn Western Link project, which will send renewable energy from Scotland to England and Wales, and has a seven-year agreement for a cable laying vessel with Maersk Supply Services to target more schemes.

Mr Heijermans explained DeepOcean’s GNS division will merge work across the UK, Norway and the Netherlands, and include roles such as IT, ship management and engineering.

He said GNS will aim to increase surveying and renewable contracts, with its international organisation focused on expansion in Africa, the Gulf of Mexico and the Middle-East.

He added: “We are committed to the North-East and believe this re-organisation will put the company in an even stronger position to keep providing subsea inspection and repair and maintenance.

“Our Darlington office is strong and we value the expertise we have there.

“We have unique capabilities in Darlington and want to preserve them, and although we are looking to reduce numbers, we still believe in the business in the long-term.”

Under the plans, Ottar Mæland will lead the GNS region and Mads Bårdsen will head its international affairs, with both reporting to Mr Heijermans.