Belfast Telegraph

Monday 27 April 2015

£4.6m boost for drill bits means 50 new jobs

Over 50 new jobs are being created in the Ulster arm of a company that supplies drill bits to the global oil and gas industry.

Hughes Christensen, whose Northern Ireland operation is based in east Belfast, revealed it is investing £4.6m in the production of new drill bits.

Invest Northern Ireland has offered the company financial support, and the investment announcement was made by Leslie Morrison, the economic development agency's chief executive.

Although it is more expensive than the tri-cone drill bits that it currently produces, a new polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) drill bit is to be manufactured in the firm's Belfast plant, offering additional drilling options to meet international customer needs.

Hughes Christensen, whose parent company is US-based Baker Hughes, was established in 1954 and its 250,000 sq ft plant at Montgomery Road employs 300 people. The latest investment will add 52 more staff.

The company's tri-cone drill bits are used throughout the world by the biggest names in oil and gas production.

Its latest project will involve the establishment of a new facility to manufacture the new polycrystalline diamond compact drill bits to meet the changing needs of the marketplace.

Invest NI has offered £900,000 towards the overall cost of the project.

The investment will also involve the establishment of an associated design facility.

Mr Morrison said: "In today's marketplace it is essential that firms continuously innovate to remain competitive."

And the Invest NI chief added: "By developing its Northern Ireland production capability for the technologically advanced drill bit, Hughes Christensen is reinforcing its leading position in this sector.

"In addition to the benefits to the company, including highly customised product design, the establishment of this new facility further establishes Northern Ireland as a prime location for high value added product design and manufacture."

Ian Warke, general manager at Hughes Christensen Belfast, explained that to date tri-cone drill bit manufacturing has been the core business of the Belfast operation.

But he added: "Global demand for technically advanced products, together with our existing manufacturing and technical skills, has resulted in this project being secured in Northern Ireland.

"This investment in polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) drill bit design and manufacture in Belfast confirms our commitment to meeting increased demand for innovative products."

Hughes Christensen is the world's leading drill bit manufacturer and constantly invests in research and development to provide the oil and gas industry with the latest value-added technology.

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