THE order book at engineering group AMEC has grown to a record £4 billion and the company is on course to hit full-year targets partly as a result of continuing strong activity in the UK North Sea.

The company, which has a large base in Aberdeen, highlighted the strength of the UK oil and gas sector in a trading update.

Contracts it secured in the third quarter of the year included brownfield modifications and commissioning on the Cladhan field for Taqa and commissioning services on the Cygnus gas field for GDF.

Loading article content

The US renewables market is also said to be performing well with contracts to design and build solar arrays in Indiana and Nevada.

In other areas AMEC worked on a feasibility study for a Canadian mine and an ore transfer system in Chile.

Closer to home it secured a five-year extension to its contract with the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority at Sellafield. The company is also working on utilities and waste recycling contracts in the UK.

The total order book stood at £4bn at the end of October which is ahead of the £3.9bn reported at the end of June.

AMEC, which also provides consultancy and project management, said: "The group continues to see investment in its end markets and demand for its services, particularly from customers in the conventional oil and gas sector, offsetting the ongoing weakness in the oil sands and mining markets.

"Activity in the North Sea remains high, with new contracts being signed and work continuing on a number of projects. Work has also continued on our 11-year contract with EDF supporting new build nuclear power stations in the UK.

"Our operations in the Middle East continue to win new business and execute existing projects."

AMEC was still in a net cash position of £6m at the end of October and said its full-year underlying revenue is likely to be in line with 2012.

Margins in the second half of this year are expected to be stronger than in the first half with AMEC also suggesting it would benefit from restructuring done earlier in the year.

Chief executive Samir Brikho said: "AMEC has continued to perform in line with expectations, with strong performances in the UK North Sea and US renewable markets.

"Our record order book reinforces our confidence as we look forward to 2014. The pipeline of acquisition opportunities remains strong. Depending on the progress made, additional cash returns to shareholders will be considered before the year end."

Service businesses like AMEC are cashing in on record investment in the North Sea where oil and gas firms are trying to boost output from existing assets and bring new facilities on stream.

In February 2011 AMEC paid £33m for Aberdeen based commissioning firm qedi, which employed around 350 staff.