Subsea demand drives growth at Express Engineering

Global demand in subsea markets for oil and gas continues to help drive growth at manufacturing, assembly and testing specialist Express Engineering, which is investing in capital equipment and its workforce.

The international business, based in Gateshead in the North of England, has been enjoying buoyant growth during the last 12-18 months – growing its workforce while building a record pipeline of new work.

With buoyant oil and gas prices and optimistic five-year forecasts from energy specialists like Westwood, Express Engineering is seeing a strong upturn in sales for its key products and services.

Chris Thompson, chair of Express Engineering Group said: “The subsea sector is in a strong position for the next five years. I am delighted to say our orderbook has reached record levels, the highest in our 50-year history, and it’s only expected to increase further across the remainder of 2024.

“With demand for product high, we hope to invest further in our capability this year, which will include a new CMM machine and a new horizontal borer to be situated in our Gateshead factories.”

The current order book stands at around £70m for the next 12-18 months – with the group receiving an intake of £10m in new orders in the last month alone.

Express Engineering has seen sales in the oil and gas sector grow significantly in recent years resulting in a jump in revenues from £20m in 2019 to more than £60m in 2024/25

Mr Thompson added that the acquisition of QA Weld Tech, based on Riverside Industrial Park, Middlesbrough, in 2023 had made a positive contribution to the overall group. QA Weld Tech is a leading provider of integrated welding and engineering services.

He said: “Since acquiring QA Weld Tech we have integrated the business into the group and invested in new processes, shift patterns and capital equipment while also building the team in Middlesbrough.

“We have doubled turnover and are securing work from overseas, breaking into new international markets. The future bodes well for all our sites on Teesside and Tyneside.”

Building and strengthening the workforce and skill levels has been a major priority during the last year or more. Around 260 people work across multiple Team Valley sites for Express Engineering, while the headcount at QA Weld Tech has risen to 46.

Gary Thirlwell, MD of Express Engineering, said: “Our overall order book is so strong that we expect to increase our shift patterns and grow our head count even further during 2024, both in Gateshead and Middlesbrough. We are looking to take on a lot more apprentices.”

The group is looking to recruit fitters, assembly and test operators and CNC machinists at Express Engineering. Welders, platers and technical support staff are required at QA Weld Tech.

Internationally, Express Engineering has become a renowned global supply specialist for actuator assemblies, connection systems and tooling for wellheads, drilling and subsea tree structures. The company is also getting involved in subsea carbon capture projects.

Collaborating with customers like TechnipFMC, Baker Hughes, OneSubsea and Aker Solutions, Express Engineering is a significant exporter of products, operating within various geographical areas, including the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, east coast of Brazil, east and west coasts of Africa, Malaysia and Australasia.

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