INTERNATIONAL engineering services company Amec has won a multi-million pound contract to improve an oil refinery in Serbia.

The firm, which has a base in Darlington, will provide project management and engineering services for NIS, the Serbian state-owned oil company, at the Novi Sad oil refinery in the north of the country.

Work will begin immediately and continue for about two years as part of the refinery's Clean Fuels Initiative, which will enable it to produce European-quality gasoline and diesel in economic quantities.

Amec has been involved in the project from the beginning, carrying out project definition and feasibility studies.

The contract will not create extra jobs, but staff at the Darlington base are likely to be involved in the project.

Steve Lee, managing director of Amec's downstream oil, gas and process business, said: "We have been leading the UK Government Energy Task Force in Serbia for the last two years, assisting with the rehabilitation of Serbian energy industries.

"This is the first major refinery development to proceed with the assistance of a western engineering company, and it typifies our ability to support clients at all phases, from early advice and planning through to realisation.

"It is an important first step in Amec's strategy to become a key energy service provider to the Balkan region."