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Subsea Firms Predict Multi-million Pound Increase in Turnover

04 July 2011

Diversification into new markets is expected to bring North-East subsea sector firms multi-million pound growth in the next two years, new research has shown.

A study by industry support body Subsea North Eas (SNE) predicts that regional firms working in the sector, which currently generates a turnover of £1bn a year and supports more than 10,000 jobs, will achieve an average 29 percent increase in turnover in the next two years.

It is based on the fact regional firms expertise in the oil and gas sector can be transferred to fast growing sectors such as offshore wind farms and communications, with an estimated 95 percent of the planet's internet traffic travelling through subsea cables.

SNE board member George Rafferty said: "I was surprised myself when I learnt a year back that the bulk of internet traffic is not covered by satellites, it is cables lying on ocean floors, so if you look at businesses such as CTC Marine in Darlington it is another string to the bow."

It is set to be of double benefit to deep sea cable-laying firm CTC, based in Coniscliffe Road, which announced last month it was planning a "serious" move into the offshore wind sector.

The firm has already carried out work for several renewable energy projects but its main specialism has previously been in laying cables for the oil and gas sector.

Mr Rafferty, who is also chief executive of Durham City based business development organisation NOF Energy, believed subsea firms had realised the importance of diversification.

He said: "When a particular market takes a little bit of a drop the chances are if you are involved in others they may take up any slack."

"The last couple of years has been affected by the global downturn and subsea activity was no different, but it is now starting to climb out of that and the long term prospects around the globe are healthy," he added.

"Many North-East companies are world leaders in subsea supply and are in huge demand right around the globe.

"If you look at our strategy over the last five years it is based around the fact oil and gas are going to be the key components of the energy mix for the foreseeable future but as we look to develop alternative sectors the businesses in the oil and gas supply chain and their transferrable skills and technologies will allow them to get into offshore wind turbines and nuclear.

"The oil and gas supply chain is in a very good position."

Subsea North East chairman Andrew Hodgson added: "This study reveals the confidence in the future that exists in the North East subsea sector.

"Investments are still being made world-wide, which require the expertise and innovative products developed in this region.

"With the need to exploit hard-to-reach oil and gas reserves and the emergence of offshore renewable resources, opportunities for these companies and the supporting supply chain are on the rise.

"In addition, the world's appetite for communications is growing exponentially, which is also benefiting North East subsea companies involved in the laying and maintenance of telecommunication cables on the sea bed around the world."