A BARNSLEY company is using the power of a plant to clean up contaminated water on oilfields in Africa.

Oceans ESU have engineered systems in Sudan which use reed beds to remove chemicals from water left after oil has been extracted from the ground.

The company, based at Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre at Wilthorpe, is now looking to expand into other counties and expects to increase profits by 73 per cent this year.

Managing director Lucian Gill said: “The scale of what we do and our emphasis on dealing with complex chemicals and reusable applications is unique in the world.

“We engineer reed beds to get the best possible treatment capability in the smallest area. The reeds regenerate every spring so it’s very low maintenance and, of course, the process doesn’t use any energy and the clean water itself can be reused.”

At the Heglig site, the project has provided a wetland habitat for birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and mammals, many of which are under increasing threat from human development.

"Over a hundred species of birds have been seen there and four of these are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threatened species, such as the white-headed vulture and black crowned crane.

“It’s very rewarding to be playing a role in protecting wildlife in Africa when we’re based so far away in Barnsley.”

Oceans ESU is currently designing reed bed systems for two oilfields in Columbia and has put in place a smaller scheme in South Africa which treats run-off from a petrol station.