Offshore deal secures hundreds of jobs

A Lowestoft-based company has secured the future of hundreds of jobs after announcing it had landed a multi-million pound contract to help build new oil platforms in the Middle East.

A Lowestoft-based company has secured the future of hundreds of jobs after announcing it had landed a multi-million pound contract to help build new oil platforms in the Middle East.

SLP made the announcement yesterday to coincide with the visit of energy minister Malcolm Wicks to the area, which took a dramatic twist when he and other dignitaries were stranded on a North Sea gas platform after their helicopter was temporarily grounded by a bird strike.

The company, one of the leading contractors in the offshore energy industry, has been awarded the contract by Maersk Oil Qatar to help construct six offshore oil platforms.

Company bosses remained tight-lipped about the exact value of the contract, but confirmed it would secure and create hundreds of jobs.

The deal follows hot on the heels of another contract which SLP has landed to be a major parts supplier to a new £400m windfarm planned for the coast off Essex and Kent.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said last night: "It's absolutely fabulous and is really good news. It's going to secure jobs in the town for years to come."

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SLP's contract includes the construction of accom-modation modules for the new platforms planned for the Al Shaheen Field, off Qatar. Contracts are being negotiated and further information will be released soon.

SLP chief executive David Edwards said: "We are delighted that Maersk Oil Qatar has awarded SLP this contract, which will be a massive boost to our international contracting capability, complementing the work SLP is currently undertaking in Mexico for similar accommodation platforms."

SLP's success story was witnessed first hand yesterday by the energy minister, who visited an offshore gas platform designed and built by the company before finishing his tour at its onshore wind turbine in Lowestoft, called Gulliver.

Mr Wicks and Mr Blizzard were among a group stranded for 2½ hours when the helicopter which flew them to the unmanned platform was hit by a bird. Rigorous checks were carried out on the helicopter's blades before it was given clearance to make its return journey.