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Island and Fife fabrication yards are bought out of administration


By Calum MacLeod

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The Methil fabrication site.
The Methil fabrication site.

Fabrication yards in Lewis and Fife look set to gain a new lease of life after being bought out of administration.

The Arnish yard on Lewis and its Methil counterpart, previously owned by offshore energy fabrication company, Burntisland Fabrication Limited (Bifab), have been bought out of administration by InfraStrata plc.

However, the third BiFab site, also in Fife at Burntisland, will not form part of the £850,000 transaction.

BiFab, which was part-owned by the Scottish government and a Canadian engineering firm, went into administration in December, having failed to win contracts to build platforms for offshore wind turbine.

Just under 30 staff, who are currently on furlough, will now be transferred to the new company.

The Arnish and Methil sites will trade under the Harland & Wolff brand, which is wholly owned by InfraStrata, along with the company's two existing sites in Belfast and Appledore.

Methil, the larger of the two sites, will be heavily focussed on fabrication for the oil and gas, commercial and renewables markets, whilst Arnish is seen as lending itself to multiple opportunities across all Harland & Wolff’s five markets: defence, oil and gas, renewables, commercial and cruise and ferry.

InfraStrata chief executive John Wood commented: “With this acquisition, we now have a footprint in Scotland, which is the hotbed for major wind farm projects as well as for shipbuilding programmes. We have now positioned ourselves strategically across the UK with four sites capable of servicing our five core markets.

"This acquisition gives us the flexibility to optimise our operations across the Group and offer our clients the ability to fabricate faster and de-risk their exposure by offering multiple sites. As we move into larger contracts, it is crucial that we demonstrate the capacity to bid for and deliver on these projects. The acquisition of BiFab’s assets delivers that capability to us and will open up a larger demographic of tender opportunities."

The news has been welcomed by trade unions GMB Scotland and Unite Scotland.

Unite Scotland secretary Pat Rafferty and his GMB Scotland counterpart Gary Smith have issued a joint statement, saying: “The announcement by InfraStrata that two of the BiFab yards will be bought out of administration is welcome news. It is also testimony to our members and their communities who have fought hard to keep these yards alive.

“We look forward to working with the company to ensure it is primed to win contracts for the offshore wind sector, and to having a positive working relationship underpinned by the Fair Work principles. We have always believed that the BiFab yards, and indeed yards and ports all over Scotland, are uniquely placed to capture the benefits of the offshore wind sector.

“However, the story so far has been one of government failure. Thousands of jobs and billions of pounds have been outsourced around the world when Scottish communities should have been benefitting from these contracts. Now the Scottish and UK governments have been given a reprieve and they need to step-up and support the new ownership.

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