Fears hundreds of jobs could be missed out on

Fears have been raised that a contract which could bring 1,000 jobs to a Wallsend yard will go outside the UK.

The OGN Group, based at the Hadrian yard, are hoping to land a lucrative offshore contract for a £70m gas project.

But industry reports say the contract for the Maersk Culzean wellhead jacket will be awarded to a continental company within the next few days.

Officials at OGN, which already employs 1,000 people, say the contract would have created hundreds of jobs and fear it is the first in a series of contracts that will be awarded outside the UK.

Chairman Dennis Clark said: “The network is saying Maersk will award the Culzean jacket contract outside of the UK.

“The contract is worth circa £70m and would create approximately 1,000 British jobs.

“It is the first of a series of contracts that now look likely to go outside the UK.

“The long-term consequences of this are extremely serious for British manufacturing, prosperity and employment.”

The industry has received numerous assurances that the government would do all it can to ensure contacts for new North Sea oil rigs are placed with UK yards.

Mr Clark has been petitioning the government for more than three years and had hoped the creation of new cross party oil and gas group last year would help secure more UK content on the new contracts being placed on the UKCS.

North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon is a member of the cross party oil and gas group set up to pressure oil companies into awarding contracts to UK companies.

She said: “I am frustrated by the fact that the Government is happy to give oil and gas companies tax concessions but still does not seem able to secure jobs for British fabricators.

“I have been making the case directly to the Minister, for the first Maersk contract from the Culzean project, to come to the Tyne and I am waiting eagerly for a response.”

Last month Mr Clark wrote to Energy and Climate Change secretary Ed Davey warning that the Culzean contract was likely to be placed overseas.

He has also written a series of letters to Government ministers highlighting his concerns over its need to support UK fabricators.

The Culzean project is located 145 miles east of Aberdeen and is one of the largest gas discoveries of recent years in the UK North Sea.