A South Tyneside engineering firm is on track for major growth after winning a host of international contracts.

Metec Cathodic Protection (UK) is set to achieve more than £8 million turnover and increase staff numbers after securing work in the ship build/repair, ports and harbours, offshore renewable and oil and gas sectors.

The firm employs 37 staff, including 15 jobs saved following the closure of a local foundry in 2016, with varying skills from corrosion protection engineers, design engineers and coded welders as well as its dedicated specialist foundry personnel Metec have plans to increase the number of local employees throughout 2019.

Cathodic protection is a technique where sacrificial anodes are attached to a steel structure and the sacrificial anode will sacrifice its mass in preference to the structure to control corrosion. It is essential for asset integrity management in aggressive offshore and marine environments; protecting metal structures and vessels from the corrosion that would otherwise cause them to fail, resulting in monetary losses and potential fatalities.

The technique used to control corrosion has significant economic benefits in a wide range of applications; from fuel tanks to bridge pile foundations, reinforced concrete structures in harbours and offshore windfarm towers. A study carried out in 2016 estimated the cost of industrial and non-industrial corrosion at around $2.5 trillion, 3.4% of GDP[1] worldwide.

Robert Forsyth, Metec UK’s Commercial Director, said: “Cathodic protection is the belt and braces to protective coating systems and specified in most ship build/ship repair, harbour, renewable energy and offshore projects.

“Each project we undertake is unique. Different structures in shallower or deeper water, in different environments. What we deliver is tailored to the structure and the environment, to maximise its lifespan.”

The firm’s recently completed projects include the East Anglia and Hornnsea ONE Offshore windfarms as well as a an oil and gas platform for The Statoil Perrigrino field in offshore Brazil – Statoil’s largest field outside of Norway.

The firm works closely with its international group partners and has specialists in Nigeria and Tunisia who specialise in pipeline corrosion protection systems as well as UK specialists allowing it to offer the skills and capacity to meet the needs of the largest offshore contracts.

This year the company will export internal and external anti-corrosion cathodic protection to Germany and Belgium for the Borssele Offshore Windfarm in the North Sea – providing sustainable energy to five million Dutch households. Two export contract for Israeli Oil and Gas firm Energean will see Metec UK’s products exported to Romania and Greece for a platform jacket and pipeline contract in the Black Sea and Mediterranean.

The company has further strengthened its position in the ship building and ship repair industries by setting up consignment stock agreements in 2019 with large users in Germany, Holland, Denmark, The Faroe Islands and Latvia.

Mr Forsyth said: “Though not a lot of companies do what we do, competition is tight. There are a few small foundries in the UK, but our current capacity is over 100 tonnes per week, together with our African facilities it’s over 400 tonnes, which gives us the edge. In 2019 we’re installing a new bulk melting furnace here in South Shields to further increase our capacity.’’

“For clients, that capacity combined with our expertise across sectors including offshore oil and gas and wind, harbour and pipeline means that we’re uniquely placed to offer a one-stop shop, rather than them having to split the contract on a big job between suppliers.

“Our growth has come from a combination of industry contacts and the strong financial backing we have through our holding company. We’ve invested £3 million in our machinery, facilities and staff to enable us to take advantage of the opportunities that are there.

“Oil and gas is on the increase again, while offshore wind is growing bigger and bigger almost by the day. Our offshore order book is very healthy with some very big projects in the pipeline that will keep this facility busy for another year.”

The South Shields-based firm, established in 2016, has invested heavily in the borough and has received support from South Tyneside Council.

Mr Forsyth said: “South Tyneside Council have been really supportive on a variety of issues as we have grown, helping us sort out any potential local issues to keep us on track. The way the council works with local business is so much better than what I’ve seen in other boroughs. We’re very lucky on that score.”

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “I visited this facility when it was first set up in South Tyneside. Robert and the team have achieved so much in the few years since then. A lot of this is down to the skills and talent available to expand their expertise from here in the borough.

“I’m delighted that the firm is able to expand and provide another welcome jobs boost for local people. We look forward to supporting METEC as the company grows on an international scale.”