A giant steel tube maker has been opened on Tyneside, securing more than 150 jobs and millions of pounds of investment.  The 'Vertical Helix Assembly Machine' builds cables that are up to 60km long, and can extract oil from the bottom of the sea.

The facility, housed in one of the tallest single floor buildings in Europe, was launched by Technip Umbilicals this week and is set to reinforce the firm’s position as a key player within the subsea sector.

The box-shaped building houses a gigantic vertical helix assembly machine (VHAM) and extrusion line, enabling the production of extremely long-length umbilicals, of considerable diameter, while incorporating large numbers of components to meet the industry’s worldwide requirements for the foreseeable future.

Managing director of Technip Umbilicals, Jean-Louis Rostaing said: “We are currently a leading player in umbilical technology with a track record for large and complex dynamic systems, including the world’s largest and heaviest umbilical manufactured for BP Skarv at 325mm OD and over 200kg/m. The investment we have now made in advanced steel tube umbilicals is aimed at satisfying future market demand for deep water, long tieback and large complex umbilical systems.“This investment will contribute to consolidating our leading position in our sector by ensuring that we have the capacity and capability to meet our clients’ needs for both steel tube and thermoplastic umbilicals. The fact that the technology is housed in what is believed to be one of Europe’s tallest single floor buildings says everything about our ambition.

Businessmen at the launch said it helps continue the redevelopment of the Tyne, after the end of shipbuilding more than 20 years ago.