Scotland’s energy minister said today that steering Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) out of harm’s way was always “going to be challenging”.
Paul Wheelhouse said the firm was facing renewed financial problems as a German business partner threatens legal action.
German energy group, EEW, are reportedly taking the action over “substantial outstanding payments”.
Despite the concern, Mr Wheelhouse attempted to focus on the Scottish Government’s wider response to the problems within Scotland’s renewable energy supply chain.
He said: “We’ve always said it was going to be challenging. Leaving aside the legal action between two commercial parties, the challenge for Scotland and indeed BiFab of course is to develop a pipeline of projects for the future.
“We’re concentrating our efforts on ensuring we can build bridges after a very challenging period for the company, make sure there’s line of sight to market opportunities and working with developers to find out when they’re likely to come forward with projects. We have to be supportive of all fabricators in Scotland, not just BiFab.”
BiFab, which employs 1,400 workers, was saved from administration late last year by a Scottish Government loan of £15million to ensure they could meet their commercial commitments and meet contract deadlines.
The Fife-based engineering firm has been working on significant renewables contracts in the outer Moray Firth and a multi-million agreement with the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm.
The news that BiFab is to be sued is sure to reignite fears among staff and workers concerning the firm’s future.
Mr Wheelhouse reiterated the support already pledged to the firm by the Scottish Government, adding that in order to see a longer term way out of danger BiFab needs to get fresh contracts on the books and perhaps look to collaboration with other supply chain companies.
Mr Wheelhouse said: “We’re trying to work on collaboration between different companies to strengthen their hand in terms of demonstrating that they’ve got resilience in their bid and they can cover any delays in production by working with others to deliver projects on time and to budget.
“That’s the challenge and obviously an important issue for BiFab in terms of dealing with the legal case they’re now involved with, but the more substantive issue is making sure that they have a future pipeline of work that we can help them with. We’re here to support the company and they know that.”