Scottish Government pledges BiFab support as firm faces fresh challenges

A BiFab site in Fife
A BiFab site in Fife

The announcement yesterday that Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab) is being sued by German business partner, EEW, has provoked a pledge of support from the Scottish Government.

The German energy group are reportedly taking legal action over “substantial outstanding payments”.

The government have confirmed that they ‘continue to offer support’ to BiFab as the supply chain firm work through big renewables contracts with Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm in the Outer Moray Firth.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Ministers continue to offer support to BiFab to allow work to continue on the contracts for the Beatrice offshore wind farm. The loan facility extended by Scottish Ministers will see BiFab receive payments to alleviate immediate cash flow issues experienced by the company in connection with the Beatrice project.

“Ministers recognise this remains a difficult period for BiFab’s workforce and their families, and for BiFab’s contractors and creditors.  Ministers recognise work remains to be done to secure the long term future of the company and welcome the commitment made by stakeholders to achieving that outcome. Ministers will continue to offer support to attract long term investment in this vital sector of the Scottish supply chain and economy.”

BiFab’s initial problems centre on a dispute involving the company and the Dutch-owned contractor, Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL) over a particular payment.

Unable to settle the debt, the Scottish Government stepped in with a £15million loan to support the firm to allow it to honour contracts and retain its workforce.

BiFab has a workforce of 1,400 employees, contractors and subcontractors at its yards in Burntisland and Methil in Fife and Arnish on the Isle of Lewis.

The news that the firm is to be sued by a business partner has caused concern that the firm is once again about to enter a perilous phase.

A GMB Union spokesman said: “It’s deeply concerning but we’ll keep working with the Scottish Government, either to resolve the issue or look at other options, but the clock is ticking.”