Hethel-based Proeon grows as it extends life in the southern North Sea

A Hethel-based company which develops electrical control and safety systems for the oil and gas sector has increased its workforce by 50pc over the last year as it wins work from operators extending the life of installations.

Proeon Systems – which moved to the Hethel Engineering Centre in South Norfolk in 2010 – has won contracts including with energy giants Shell and Perenco.

Managing director Kevin Magee – who founded the company with director of engineering Eddie Pond in 2003 – said many of their systems were for the 'brown field market' rather than new green field projects.

Mr Magee said: 'Industrial gas turbines are similar to those found on your holiday aeroplane to Alicante, but instead of powering you to exotic locations, they are powering generators, pumps and compressors in places where mains electricity and alternatives are not possible.

'Companies are trying to maximise the lifespan of the assets. The engines and hardware go on and on but the control systems need replacing.

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'We are working on a project in Iraq where there are three engines that have been running since the 1970s. The control systems are very dated. The kind of assets we are putting in are very much geared to allowing the assets to last longer.'

The company has diversified over the years and its directors believe that the ability to be flexible, and spot opportunities that fit the company's skill sets and the location in the Eastern region, are Proeon's keys to success.

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Mr Magee said moving to Hethel from Norwich had been one of the best things the company had done.

'It is the fact that being based here we are engaging with like-minded companies. It presents a professional image. It is somewhere clients are happy to come and it gives the right vibe,' he said.

Eddie Pond added: 'When we started Proeon we were very niche with specific applications and now we're supplying and developing electrical control and safety systems for harsh environments in the North Sea, right the way through to supplying controls to some of the most advanced, award winning race car simulator systems.'

The company had a turnover of �1m last year and is on course to increase that to �1.5m this year. It now employs 12 staff members

Proeon's initial and mainstay expertise is in the development of gas turbine control systems.

The latest recruits to the company include Dale Carter, who has more than 20 years' experience in the control system industry and will be responsible for project delivery to clients, overseeing engineering operations as well as developing new customer services and products.

Dorian Hindmarsh will be working in business development and brings skills from technology development, business structure and opportunity exploitation from Energy and Advanced manufacturing in the UK and Scandinavia.

The company is still looking for new staff and Mr Magee believes that with the modest growth of energy and automation technology interest in the region the company's expansion will continue at a significant pace.


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