Lowestoft: 40 job pledge as energy boss hails ‘milestone’ contract

Martin Jolley, Managing Director of AKD Engineering.Picture: James Bass

Martin Jolley, Managing Director of AKD Engineering.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

The boss of a Lowestoft-based energy company has hailed a “milestone” contract that will pave the way for 40 new jobs and the expansion of its Suffolk headquarters.

Martin Jolley, managing director of AKD Engineering, has sealed a £5m deal with energy giant Shell to help deliver a major revamp of the Bacton gas terminal, where 30pc of Britain’s gas flows in via Norfolk.

The deal – connected to the Bacton Rejuvenation project – will see the firm manufacture eight skid packages to improve the process of cleaning and transferring gas from its offshore facilities.

And to meet the increased demand for its services, plans are under way to recruit 40 new staff across its engineering and manufacturing divisions – with a focus on filling the roles from the local community.

The staff expansion is part of a long-term vision to grow the firm’s headquarters on Horn Hill by building a bigger dockside facility – although development plans have yet to be submitted.

The dockside project will enable the firm to transfer more materials by barge to Great Yarmouth’s Outer Harbour, where it can be loaded on to bigger vessels for global export.

It comes on the back of a string of contracts for the business, which recently sealed a £1m deal with oil and gas firm GE, supplying components for the Ichthys CWOR riser project in Australia.

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Mr Jolley, whose firm employs 140 staff and is looking to increase its revenue from £12m to £16m this year, said the Shell deal will help boost the company’s reputation.

He said: “In almost every case, these contracts are renewals or extensions of contracts with previous clients, made possible by our track record of excellence and value.

“We are clearly delighted to be awarded this formal contract with Shell. This signifies a milestone in the development of the company, and puts us at the top end of our niche market. With similar prestigious long-term contracts already in place with other leading industry giants, we are extremely proud of what we have achieved here at AKD.”

Denise Farr, AKD’s sales and marketing manager, said the company was benefiting from maintenance contracts which had been put on hold when the economy was at its worst.

She said: “The whole oil and gas industry was hit a year or two after the financial crisis, which meant a lot of maintenance contracts were put on hold – but now these jobs are happening.

“This is a major year for us. To get the contract direct from Shell, and the value that comes with it, is fantastic. We hope it opens up our global operations, and we get noticed more.”

She added: “Our aim this year is to deliver these contracts and get repeat business off the back of that.

“We are particularly interested in increasing our presence in West Africa and Europe – especially Norway.”