More than 500 jobs have been safeguarded with a multi-million pound contract for a Tyneside engineering firm.
The work will involve upgrading BP's Bruce gas platform
Amec on Tyneside has been hired by BP to build equipment for use on Rhum gas field off the Scottish coast - the largest undeveloped gas reserve in the UK.
The order is worth £35m to the company's Wallsend yard and comes at a time when the north-east of England is suffering big job losses.
The company will also upgrade the giant Bruce Platform off Aberdeen to extend the lifespan of the vital field, which provides five per cent of Britain's gas.
An Amec spokesman said: "We are delighted the Wallsend facility is once again playing a major part in a gas project for a major international company.
"This project will be a key in our desire to retain people and skills for the future."
Work on both projects is expected to start immediately, with the first gas from the upgraded Bruce platform expected by the end of 2004. The Rhum will begin work in October 2005.
The £35m order includes engineering and design for both projects.
BP is spending more than £350m on developing the Rhum field, which was discovered in 1977.
A BP spokesman said: "The North Sea remains a very important part of BP's global business portfolio and will continue to be important for many years to come. Rhum is a good example of the opportunities that still exist."