THE MAIL reported that a Barrow firm has landed a £4m contract to help remove an old North Sea oil rig.

It is the biggest contract yet for Oil States MCS Ltd, of Bouthwood Road on the Sowerby Woods Industrial Estate.

And it could be the first of many orders for the firm.

Oil States MCS Ltd has created 15 extra jobs for skilled design engineers and technicians since it landed the contract.

And at least five more jobs are being created in the next few months, which will take the workforce.

But the general manager Owen Osmotherley believes a further ten jobs could also be generated.

The order was clinched from rivals because the firm has already had other contracts to remove seven smaller platforms in the South China Sea off Brunei, and five smaller platforms in the North Sea.

Up to now most rig removals have been small.

Mr Osmotherley said: "A lot of people in the industry will be watching this. Assuming it is a success, that will the way forward.

"Obviously, there are a lot more platforms to come out of the North Sea.

"This is probably the biggest contract of its type which has been handed out. We can't say the name of the rig or who the work is for at this time, because that is part of the contract."

Preliminary work involves designing and building remotely operated underwater cutters capable of slicing through the five metre diameter legs of the 17,000-tonne redundant oil rig.

The finished systems which cut using grit and water forcedthrough a small nozzle at ultra-high pressure will be as big as containers.

They will be lowered into the sea and clamped around the rig legs with the help of underwater robot vehicles.

Mr Osmotherley said: ""We need to build huge pieces of equipment, tools for remote operation underwater.

"They need to be designed, built and tested before they go offshore."

Oil States MCS Ltd was formerly the Barrow founded Hydra Lok. but is now part of the American company Oil States.