The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, visited a fabrication yard in North East England which is creating 200 new jobs – part of 4,000 expected across the country - building offshore platforms for the major Cygnus gas project. The project was made possible in part by the Government's decision to offer a tax allowance for large shallow water gas fields.
The Hartlepool yard, run by Heerema Fabrication Group, is one of the first to benefit from the recent announcement by GDF SUEZ, operator, and partners Centrica and Bayerngas to sanction the $2.2 billion (GBP 1.4 billion) Cygnus project.
The Chancellor met with teams currently working at the Hartlepool site to understand more about the work that would be involved. He also discussed the next phases of the Cygnus project with Senior Partnership Management on this inaugural visit to the yard.
Heerema will build three topsides for four offshore platforms for the Cygnus field. Construction work at the site is expected to begin before the end of the year, with detailed design and procurement already underway, as the site prepares to cut first steel on this significant UK development. By 2014, an average of 450 people will be working on site for the Cygnus project alone.
The Cygnus Partnership is led by operator GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd (38.75%) with partners Centrica (48.75%) and Bayerngas (12.5%) who were also on site to welcome the Chancellor.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: "I am delighted to officially mark the go-ahead for the £1.4billion Cygnus project, which will deliver 4,000 skilled jobs. It is an example of the Government helping the private sector in the North East create sustainable jobs and lasting industry, replacing the unsustainable public borrowing of the past."
Tino Vinkesteijn, Chief Commercial Officer of Heerema Fabrication Group said: "The Cygnus project is an enormous boost for Hartlepool and the surrounding area and we are honored to have been awarded this work. The new contract will deliver hundreds of jobs and will create up to three years of work in the yard, as well as benefiting many more small companies throughout the supply chain. It furthermore ensures the expertise and tradition of offshore construction workmanship in this region."
Jean-Marie Dauger, Executive Vice-President of Global Gas and LNG at GDF SUEZ said: "The partnership is investing £1.4 billion to develop the Cygnus Field and the vast majority will be here in the UK where the supply chain is exceptionally strong. The UK Government is providing a compelling investment environment for the gas industry helping to create employment opportunities. GDF SUEZ is delighted to be investing in this Heerema Yard which has a good reputation for delivery and this shows the commitment of GDF SUEZ to the future of the UKCS."
Centrica Energy Managing Director Mark Hanafin said: "The Cygnus development represents a significant investment into infrastructure and jobs here in the UK, with the majority of the £1.4 billion spend destined for British companies. Securing long term energy security remains critically important so we value the Government's commitment on projects like this, as we work to secure UK gas supplies for our customers."
Gerry Harrison, Managing Director, Bayerngas UK said: "Bayerngas is very pleased that within just a few weeks of the new tax allowance being announced by the Government, the Cygnus Group has been able to award significant contracts in the UK, securing UK jobs and allowing construction work on the project to commence so quickly."
Cygnus is the largest gas discovery in the Southern Gas Basin for 25 years and the sixth largest field in the UK by remaining reserves. GDF SUEZ (38.75%) will operate the field with partners Centrica (48.75%) and Bayerngas (12.5%). Production is expected to start in late 2015.
Initial contracts worth $592 million (GBP 375 million) have now been signed by GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd on behalf of the partnership. Of this, $532 million (GBP 337 million) will be invested directly in the UK generating an initial 1,200 jobs, most in the North East.
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