WEIR Group is making further inroads into the supply of fracking equipment by striking a partnership with a company owned by Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

The agreement will see Weir, which specialises in pumps, working with heavy duty diesel engine maker MTU to develop power systems specifically tailored for hydraulic fracturing.

Executives from both companies confirmed the tie-up at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, yesterday.

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Engineers are said to be working on integrating an engine, pump and transmission into one system which can stand up to repeated use in the harsh conditions in which fracking operations often take place.

Fracking involves a mixture of water, sand and chemicals being pumped into a well under high pressure to force hydrocarbons from the rock.

Weir, which already has a major position in the North American fracking sector, said the power system will be available from the middle of next year and can also be used during the well completion stage of shale oil and gas projects.

The market for fracking equipment is thought to be worth £750 million annually. Weir chief executive Keith Cochrane has previously stated he sees growing demand for fracking products coming from outside the US.

Steve Noon, Weir oil and gas divisional managing director, said the companies were responding to customer demand.

He said: "Our teams are working to develop fully integrated purpose-built power systems for fracking. This innovative approach will introduce a comp-lete package, with all components built specifically for fracking applications, integrated and optimised to work together, have longer run times and provide greater efficiencies for our customers.

"It is something the industry has asked for and we are determined to deliver."

Dr Michael Haidinger, chief sales officer of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, said: "Together we are taking a completely integrated approach to designing a pumping power system that addresses the challenges faced by frack site operators."

Mr Noon said the agreement between Weir and MTU, which has its headquarters in Germany, covers the servicing and maintenance aftermarket.

Weir shares closed up 34p, or 1.3% at 2688p.