BiFab Arnish yard opens to service £26m windfarm deal

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse joined SEam Power of DF Barnes to inspect the yard.
Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse joined SEam Power of DF Barnes to inspect the yard.

Work started today on a job-saving contract for nearly 90 workers at Burntisland Fabrication’s (BiFab) Arnish yard.

The new, multi-million pound deal will see 82 workers build 100 monopiles for the Moray East Offshore Windfarm, revitalising BiFab’s Isle of Lewis site.

Worth £26.5 million to the firm, BiFab bosses claimed the deal could spur the company on to win further contracts.

The news will also give the Arnish site a much needed boost, after 160 job losses as the firm experienced financial woes last year.

BiFab’s Canadian owner DF Barnes today described the yard as “one of the best equipped” in its firm’s portfolio and “ready to go”.

Sean Power, DF Barnes vice president of business development, said: “The equipment here is second to none and the workforce here has a history of being extremely productive, very capable and safe.

“I think that’s why we were able bid to the developers and win this contract.”

Mr Power added that a securing a farm-out deal from Belgian firm Smulders for part of a separate construction contract for 55 jackets for Moray East was looking “less and less likely”, but added DF Barnes was “very much” looking to oil and gas and decommissioning work.

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse was at the site to witness the opening.

He said: “The award of this contract is great news for BiFab and the wider Isle of Lewis community.

“It is essential developers and the wider supply chain look to utilise Scottish content wherever possible from the start, helping our indigenous supply chain become stronger and more competitive that is in the interests of the sector and economic impact is a key consideration as we consider future licensing opportunities and planning applications.”

BiFab, which employed 1,400 workers across three sites, was saved from administration by a Scottish Government loan of £15 million which ensured it could meet commercial commitments and contract deadlines.

The Fife-based engineering firm had been working on significant renewables contracts in the outer Moray Firth and a multi-million agreement with the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm.

DF Barnes also confirmed today it is in discussions with the developers and contractors in relation to the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm off the Angus coast.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise area manager in the Outer Hebrides, Rachel Mackenzie, said: “Today’s announcement by owners DF Barnes is great news for the Outer Hebrides. This further demonstrates the region’s capability to support the offshore wind sector.

“With its skilled workforce at Arnish, BiFab is in an excellent position to deliver part of this major contract and positions it as key player in the offshore wind supply chain.”

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan added: “Arnish is an important economic asset for the island and I am delighted to see it officially reopen after a period when it had no work.

“82 jobs will have a big impact on an economy the size of Lewis. It is vitally important that we get a sustainable programme of work for Arnish that keeps people in secure employment for years to come. I know that the company is very attentive to this point and is working hard to source new contracts for the BiFab yards.

“DF Barnes have shown real commitment to Arnish since their involvement. I would also like to thank the Scottish Government for the collaborative work is has undertaken since BiFab was first threatened with administration to get us to where we are today.”