Hythe Engineering’ Expand into the UK Petrochemical Industry

Hythe Engineering is utilising its existing pipework and fabrication skills to expand into the UK Petrochemical industry. To lead the expansion, Matt Cross has joined to share his 13 years of sector knowledge and experience with the team. 

pipes pipework and fabrication for petrochemical industry petrochem


Before joining Hythe, Matt was a Mechanical Engineering Estimator and Project Manager within the oil and gas industry. In 2020, Josh Mathias, CEO of Hythe Engineering, approached Matt to help Hythe diversify into the UK Petrochemical Industry. 

Matt explained, “The nice idea is that it complements the skills Hythe already have. We aren’t reinventing the wheel or anything, so it makes sense to expand. We’re taking the skills we’ve got within the group and reapplying those skills in a different sector.” 

We spoke to Matt to find out about what exactly PetroChem is, his career and expertise, and how it applies to Hythe Engineering.


What Does The Petrochemical Industry Produce?

The term PetroChem, put simply, refers to the industry and process that refines oil. The petrochemical industry is the refining of oils, like crude oil, to make plastics, rubbers, petrol and diesel. Hythe Engineering will be fabricating the equipment and pipework required for the UK petrochemical industry.

Matt explained, “PetroChem is a process rather than a product, it’s a loose term to collectively cover a whole range of subjects and services, much like the travel or marine industry.”

Why are petrochemicals important? 

The importance of petrochemicals is that even with global advancements in sustainable power and renewables, the world will always need oil, gas, plastics and rubber, so there will always be a consistent demand for the petrochemical industry. 


What Will PetroChem Look Like at Hythe Engineering?

Expanding into the UK Petrochemical industry seems like a natural next step for Hythe, as the process of fabricating pipework for petrochemical companies is very similar to the marine industry. 

Both industries largely involve pipework fabrication and installation. The main difference is that instead of working on boats, the product of Petrochem is in a petrochemical plant. 

Matt told us, “Hythe will utilise the skills that we have within the Group already in the marine side, and redistribute them into a different sector.”

Once the training and initial set-up is complete, the Hythe team will be working anywhere from small gas sites to large Petrochemical plants. The Petrochem service at Hythe Group will be providing:

  • Process piping fabrication
  • Skid-mounted equipment
  • Skid modular equipment
  • Carbon and low temp carbon steel
  • Stainless and alloy steel piping

When asked whether the staff will require new qualifications or retraining, Matt commented, “The skillset has the same foundation but a few paperwork exercises will be required. The oil and gas industry is largely based on American ways of working and their qualifications – whereas the marine industry is more of a British service.”


Testing and Inspection of PetroChem Services 

Weld testing and weld inspection is a fundamental part of all work carried out by Hythe. In fact, anybody who completes welding activities for Hythe is undergoing training to achieve Certified Visual Weld Inspector Status. 

Inside the new Petrochem department, these values of quality and rigorous testing will form the basis of all projects. 

All welders and fabricators will be working to, and inspected using, CSWIP Welding Inspection standards, as well as following ASME IX Weld Procedures.

Process piping fabrication in, or for, petroleum refineries also follows ASME B31.3 Piping Fabrication requirement. This standard is designed to control quality in everything from the materials and design, to the fabrication, inspection and testing of the pipework. 


Matt’s Career and Experience in the UK Petrochemical Industry 

For the last 13 years, Matt has been working for a petrol chemical fabrication company. The work replicated what Hythe offers but within a different sector. Matt told us, “What you see at Hythe with the fabricators and welders, we had exactly the same service. Instead of putting it on boats, we were putting it in oil refineries and buildings.”

Matt is skilled in quotations, pipework, process pipework fabrication engineering and skid manufacture. He started his career as a Fabricator Welder Apprentice, much like many of the team at Hythe.

Matt then moved from the shop floor to work as an Estimator for the company, before working his way up through the ranks to become a Senior Estimator and Senior Project Manager. They were a small firm, so Matt was involved in everything from procurement, and quality management, to estimation. Matt said, “Even though we had titles of Senior Estimator or Senior Project Manager it was a very varied role.”


fccu riser pipework fabrication petro chem or petrochemical industry - hythe marine services

Examples of Matt’s Past Projects 

Project Managing two FCCU Injections Sections and Associated PAU’s:

Matt Project Managed the estimation, procurement, fabrication, testing, refractory lining and delivery of two new FCCU injections sections and associated PAU’s (Pre-assembled Units). 

This project consisted of the two new sections being SA516 Gr 70 rolled shells with multiple penetrating nozzles in carbon, stainless and exotic steels, 5” refractory lined and with thermally sprayed aluminium external coating. 

Associated with the riser section, were six number PAU’s made up from BS EN 1090 structural steel, ASME B31.3 process piping fabrication.   

This project involved overseeing multiple subcontracts to ensure the project was delivered on time to meet with the clients shut down.   


pipework and mechanical fabrication in petrochem or petrochemical industry at hythe marine services

Developing Bespoke Solutions: 

Matt worked with a client on a project for enabling works within their saltwater security system, to allow for the future devolvement of the site. 

A bespoke solution was developed with the client’s engineers to meet the scope requirements. This project involved splitting a 48” fire main line into three 20” lines within a restricted space. 

The project required a range of materials, including super duplex as well as multiple of surface finishes.

Click here to speak with Matt about Petrochem and pipework fabrication services.


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From Pipefitting Apprenticeship to Full-Time Pipefitter

Meet Hythe Engineering’s latest recruit, Conor Green

10% of the workforce at Hythe Engineering, a marine engineering company, is made up of apprentices. This means the growing workforce passes down decades of in-house knowledge and industry expertise, to pursue Hythe’s overall goal of continuous upskilling and development. 

Hythe Engineering as a whole promotes and drives apprenticeships and training through all levels of the business.

One example of this is Conor Green, who recently went from pipefitting apprentice to full-time pipefitter with Hythe Engineering. 

What Does a Pipefitter Do?

Usually starting out as juniors or apprentices, pipefitters are skilled tradespeople who install, repair, maintain, assemble, fabricate and test pipe systems. These piping systems will usually include pipework, valves and pumps.

Within the marine engineering industry, pipefitters are a crucial part of the workforce as they are responsible for ship piping systems on naval and commercial vessels. 

What Does a Pipefitter Apprentice Do?

A pipefitter apprenticeship program involves a combination of practical experience within an engineering company and theoretical study with a college or university. 

As well as working towards their certification, pipefitter apprentices gain hands-on experience in the relevant skills required to be a pipefitter. These skills include welding, plating and fitting pipes. 

Depending on the level of the qualification, the apprenticeship will be between 2 and 4 years. 

Meet Conor Green 

We spoke to Conor to find out what his apprenticeship involved, what it’s like to be part of Hythe Engineering and life as a pipefitter in the marine engineering world. 

pipefitter welding a pipe wearing full protective equipment in a workshop

What Does a Pipefitting Apprenticeship Involve? 

My apprenticeship was four years long and split up into different sections. The first year was in the dockyard completing the Level 2 part of the qualification. Year one was mainly paperwork based with four days in college and one day a week on placement. 

We had lecturers going through each module, and we had different tasks to complete in the workshop to learn the basics of engineering and hand skills. On Friday’s I was with Hythe Engineering, where I’d get hands-on experience working on jobs with the tradesmen to learn the ropes. 

After that first year, I spent all of my time with Hythe Engineering getting practical experience. Depending on what jobs were on at the time would determine who I would be working with. I’d go out on jobs with different teams, watching them work and help out, or I’d be in the workshop working on a set task to develop new skills. 

Alongside this, I was completing my Level 3 NVQ in pipefitting which meant I would complete tasks according to the certification requirements, take photos and complete write-ups to document what I’d done. 

In the fourth year of my apprenticeship, I’d completed all the necessary qualifications which meant I could spend my time solely gaining knowledge and getting hands-on experience with the tools and learning from my mentor. 

This was my favourite year of my pipefitting apprenticeship as I could focus on the skill of the trade rather than having to worry about the paperwork. 

Why Did You Choose to Be a Pipefitter? 

I wanted to carry on with further education but I didn’t like the idea of just going to college. I went to some open evenings in colleges and at the dockyard to learn about the available apprenticeships. Hythe Engineering were there and I liked the idea of learning on the job and getting experience whilst being paid. 

I chose pipefitting specifically because I liked the idea of getting to learn different skills like plating, welding and engineering. 

What Was Your Favourite Project You Worked on?

During my pipefitting apprenticeship in Portsmouth, I got to work on loads of different jobs. The one I most enjoyed was in the 2nd year of my apprenticeship at Southampton General Hospital. 

Myself and a group of pipefitters went to rip-out and reinstall a brand new piping system in the boiler house at the hospital. 

I got to be on the job from start to finish so I saw all the aspects that went into the project, such as getting the materials, planning the installation and the piping itself. 

The boiler house was still powering Southampton General Hospital, so we had to work to strict timeframes. If we needed to rip a pipe out, the boilers would get turned off so there were only certain windows we could work within. 

We had to plan the day to the exact hour. For example, we would only have about a 3-hour window to complete a task because that’s how long the boiler could be off for. We had to plan during the days leading up to it how the job would be done, and complete all the pre-fab to ensure the pipes are fitted. This was so when the boilers were switched off we knew we weren’t going to overshoot it and cause major problems for the hospital. 

I liked the aspect of planning and getting to see a long-term job from start to finish, and the tape-off of the project and the final handover.

marine engineer pipefitting and welding inside a pipe

What Advice Would You Give to Somebody Considering a Hythe Engineering Apprenticeship?

I would highly recommend it. When you go to college it’s all done by the book and it’s not real life. By doing an apprenticeship, you actually get to see what it’s like because you’re on the job. You might go to college and you might love it but when you get to the job it could be completely different. When you’re learning on an apprenticeship you see what it’s actually like and get to gauge whether it’s right for you. 

I chose to stay on with Hythe Engineering because they’re a friendly company to work for and I know the procedures, rules and how things go. After four years of working with the team, I get on with them all and know them really well. I feel like there are still things I can learn and experience and knowledge I can gain.

What’s Your New Role?

Now I’ve got my Level 3 NVQ diploma, I’m now a qualified pipefitter. In my new role, I’ll now be getting very hands-on with all the tasks, gaining more confidence and experience in my trade. 

I’ll be doing various different jobs in the trade, by myself and with others. Now I’m fully qualified it’s about getting more experience and tying everything together. 

In the long term, my goal is to cement myself as a valued member at the core of Hythe Engineering. 

How to Become a Pipefitter Apprentice with Hythe Engineering

Find out more about our apprenticeships, including pipefitter apprenticeship jobs, via our Apprenticeships page.

Or, you can read more about what it’s like to be a Hythe apprentice from our interview with Hythe Engineering apprentice Tyrrell Ford.

Lloyd’s Coded Welders: Why we’re different…


To ensure the highest welding standards are consistently met, all Hythe Engineering welding procedures are developed in accordance with the recognised British/ISO Standards, using Lloyd’s rules and regulations and with the aid of Lloyd’s surveyors as witnessing authorities.

Our team of Qualified Welders carry out testing against Lloyd’s code-compliant processes using various welding methods including MMA, FCAW, MIG, MAG, TIG on many different materials, like carbon steels, stainless steels, Inconel, aluminium and CuNi. The final independent review is from a surveyor, tasked by Lloyd’s Register. The review process monitors and improves the safety and quality of construction requirements for shipbuilding, marine engineering, structural steelwork (BS EN 1090) and any general welding activities.

Lloyd’s Register Foundation is an independent global charity that helps to protect life and property at sea, on land, and in the air.” – The Lloyd’s Register

What is Lloyd’s Coded Welding?

Coded welding refers to those with official certification, whose welding work is traced and recorded to maintain the required quality standards. 

“Our value lies in our experience and reputation for quality inspection. We were there as shipbuilders went from using wood to using iron and steel. Today, we inspect that steel and qualify the welders and welding procedures that fabricators use to weld safety-critical equipment and structures.” – The Lloyd’s Register Foundation

Particular to the marine industry and Hythe Engineering, the Lloyd’s Register provides the industry standard in coded welding. Originally Lloyd’s Register started out as a marine classification society in 1760. They are now a leading provider of professional services for marine engineering. The missions of Lloyd’s Register are improving safety and increasing the performance of critical infrastructures for clients in over 75 countries worldwide.”

Within shipbuilding and maintenance, welding is one of the most critical operations. If a weld was to fail, the entire structure is at risk of being compromised. Current quality expectations of welding have never been higher and are the central factor in the rules of all ship classification societies. The Welding Institute states, “Rules for shipbuilding are all written with the expectation of achieving safe shipping, including Lloyd’s Register.”

The Importance of Coded Welding at Hythe Engineering 

When manufacturing fabricated components and systems, welding certification is critical to the assurance of structural and pressure integrity. All Classification Societies, such as Lloyd’s, ABS and DNV, require welders to be properly qualified for the task in hand and to hold official certification. Lloyd’s Register requires the inspection and subsequent NDT and mechanical testing to be witnessed by an approved third party, as well as witnessing the weld procedure qualification and welding of the test piece. Hythe Engineering’s Director of Value Engineering explained the process of Lloyd’s inspection. 

We weld a test piece in our workshop as authorised by our company welding department. Lloyd’s witness the process ensuring it is welded in accordance with the given Weld procedure specification. On completion, it gets sent away for the required testing as defined in the relevant standards. When Lloyd’s confirms the test piece qualifies within the required acceptance criteria, we are given the go-ahead to be able to weld on the ship/site. Each time we do a job we are required to submit evidence that then gets sent to a third party for non-destructive testing, to prove the welding quality is in accordance with the relevant acceptance criteria.”

The official Lloyd’s Register Welding Certification Guide states, “Welding qualifications used for the construction, conversion, modification or repair of ships, other marine structures, offshore units and associated machinery which are classed or are intended for classification by Lloyd’s Register are to be manufactured, tested and inspected in accordance with the appropriate Lloyd’s Register Rules.”

We spoke to Hythe Engineering’s Senior Welding Inspector/Head of welding, to find out more about the weld test inspection process. “We carry out rigorous testing using  British Standards as well as EN ISO standards. These give us the guidelines to follow when developing Weld Procedure Qualification Records or carrying out welder qualifications.” 

All test pieces are visually inspected. If the piece is acceptable, the necessary NDT is carried out and mechanical testing when required. If the test piece passes, the welder qualification certificate is issued, signed and stamped by the Lloyd’s surveyor.

Marine welding services

When to use Coded Welding and Welding Inspections

Hythe Engineerings’ Director of Value Engineering explained, “Not just any welder can carry out the work we do, as you must have specialist qualifications. Any of the welding undertaken on these vessels requires you to be a Lloyd’s registered welder before you’re even permitted to step onboard.” 

When asked about specific projects that involve coded welding, Hythe’s weld inspector told us, “All welding carried out by Hythe Engineering involves using qualified welders and approved procedures. We can use it on not just warships for the MoD but also external customers on pipe systems or any pressure vessels or structural steelwork, which we now have accreditation for. Anything like that we will always be using qualified welders. We are very lucky here at Hythe Engineering as both our Director of Value Engineering and managing director appreciate the need to offer customers the highest quality of welding, which makes my job so much easier. Our welding department has always been backed, which means we can continually push to develop new procedures and bring in the suitable welding talent which we need. By achieving this I have found that we consistently get repeat work from customers every single day, who are pleased with the quality and also deadlines being met.”

Another priority that Hythe Engineering stipulates is that all welding is visually inspected. Throughout the company, there are inspection personnel qualified for various levels. There are Visual Welding Inspectors CSWIP 3.0 who visually inspect the external welds, and another Welding Inspector CSWIP 3.1 who deals with materials, types of materials and assess any defects they may find. Finally, there’s the Senior Welding Inspector who has the extra knowledge and experience for both internal and external welding assessment along with welding quality and increased job knowledge. We are currently in the process of allowing all of our welders to become CSWIP 3.0 visual welding inspectors. All welding apprentices will also complete this course once they have finished the first 2 years of training.

How to become a Lloyd’s Coded Welder

Achieving the status of Lloyd’s Coded Welder requires the witnessing of a successful test weld by an external examiner, surveyor or testing body. The test examines the skills of the welder and their ability to produce a weld of satisfactory quality in accordance with supplied procedures. There are limits given on flaws associated with the shape of the weld bead, such as excess weld metal and concavity, to assess the welder’s true competence and skill.

After completing a weld following Lloyd’s approved weld procedures and materials, Hythe Engineering arranged for a Lloyd’s surveyor to come in and carry out their external assessment. The Lloyd’s surveyor will witness the testing carried out by Hythe Engineering welding inspectors, to ensure everything has been completed in accordance with the official weld procedure. Once the Lloyd’s witness and Senior Welding Inspector are satisfied with the assessment, the weld is then sent away for Non-Destructive Testing (NDT).
Hythe’s weld inspector explained to us what these tests might involve. “NDT could be in the form of radiography, dye-penetrant inspection or surface crack detection.” depending on the type of weld configuration or material. 

If this is all that’s required for the specific qualification, then the Senior Welding Inspector writes up the welder qualification, which is then sent off to Lloyd’s who will review, sign and stamp it. Some welded plates may require additional testing using a laboratory where mechanical testing is carried out. Unlike NDT, mechanical testing is destructive, so the test weld won’t be returned. The test plate is cut up into sections so the relevant tests can be carried out. If the weld plate is satisfactory then the Senior Welding Inspector will complete the welder qualification to be signed and stamped by Lloyd’s. 

These qualifications will then be uploaded to the Hythe Engineering system where they can be circulated to customers should they need to see it. Hythe Engineering also ensures that our welders are prolongated every 6 months up to a 3 year period. Once the period has elapsed then we re-qualify them.

Lloyds Register procedure welding

The Advantages of Lloyd’s Coded Welding 

For Hythe Engineering, holding Lloyd’s Coded Welder status assures customers that they are meeting relevant quality standards that are recognised worldwide. He said, “The main benefit for customers is that by Hythe using Lloyd’s Coded Welding they are stating they supply a quality process. This assures customers that the standards we operate to are proven to work. The main factor is that an external surveyor comes in and makes sure we are using the right materials, that the welders are testing in the correct positions, and that we’re using the right consumables against the given weld procedure specification.”

In essence, the customer is guaranteed a process that is quality assured and can be backed up with full traceability on all materials used.

Looking for a Lloyd’s Coded Welder? Contact us.