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The world is becoming much more flexible.

Wellstream International is the world's second largest designer and manufacturer of unbonded flexible pipe systems for the oil and gas industry.

Located on the banks of the River Tyne in Walker, Wellstream's flexible riser and flowline systems are currently in operation all over the world, in some of the most extreme offshore environments.

Current high oil prices have helped to drive Wellstream's order books to their highest level ever, providing a backlog of production for nearly two years for the Newcastle facility.

With a local workforce now approaching 470, the facility has had a year of record-breaking production. This year over 150 reels of pipe have been loaded out from Newcastle, for destinations as far afield as Brazil, Australia and Angola, 50% up on 2005. The deepwater quay, next to Wellstream's facility, operated by Shepherd Offshore Services, is critical to the company's success, enabling completed pipes weighing up to 250 tonnes to be loaded out ready for installation.

In this buoyant market, Wellstream is also investing in a new facility in Niteroi, Brazil, which will service the Brazilian market place. This is due to start production in the middle of 2007.

Currently some of Wellstream's new Brazilian employees are in Newcastle being trained, with Newcastle employees being given the opportunity to travel to Brazil to help train new employees.

This culture of co-operation is critical to the success of the new facility and it is based on experience from when Wellstream located in the North East 10 years ago, drawing support and expertise from Wellstream's Panama City facility in the USA.

The company will employ over 750 people worldwide when the Brazil plant is opened.

The Newcastle facility is also the centre of the company's R&D efforts with developments taking place that will see Wellstream offshore operate in deeper and harsher conditions.

The hurricanes that have dramatically impacted oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico have provided opportunities for greater acceptance of flexible pipe in this area.

Wellstream has recently been awarded a contract by Helix Energy Resource Technology GOM Inc for the riser system for its Phoenix project, where a ship-shaped floating production unit will be used for the first time.

Wellstream has exciting developments in Panama City, where its FlexSteel product line is revolutionising the onshore pipeline market in the USA and Canada. FlexSteel combines the manufacturing, transportation and installation advantages of flexible pipe with the strength of steel and the corrosion resistance of polymer liners.
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 8, 2006
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