Hundreds of Fife jobs will be created when work returns to the Methil yard formerly owned by BiFab this summer.
Infrastrata acquired BiFab’s Methil and Arnish yards from administrators in February. The company has wasted no time in securing a major deal.
It has signed a contract to fabricate eight wind turbine generator foundation jackets for the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm.
The contract is worth £26 million and is scheduled to get underway from July 1.
It is estimated the work will create around 290 direct and indirect Scottish jobs.
Infrastrata operates the former BiFab assets under its Harland and Wolff subsidiary. While Methil will be the base for the project, support may be provided from the company’s other facilities in Arnish, Appledore and Belfast.
The Port of Dundee is also playing a major part in the NnG project, with all 54 turbines for the project being assembled there. It has led to a £40m investment in the port.
Bulk of work in Scotland
Matthias Haag, NnG project director, said: “This is an important day for the offshore wind sector in Scotland.
“When we announced our main contractors in 2019, we made clear our commitment to the Scottish supply chain and the role it has to play in the construction of NnG.
“That’s why this contract signing is such good news. We are pleased the contract has been awarded to Harland & Wolff with the bulk of the work taking place in Scotland.
“With the Port of Dundee supporting the project as NnG’s marine hub, the Port of Leith as the marshalling point for the pile casings and planning permission recently granted for an operations and maintenance base at Eyemouth Harbour, Harland & Wolff joining our project is yet further evidence of our commitment to Scotland.”
In 2019, NnG owner EDF Renewables said “at least” eight turbine jackets would be manufactured by BiFab.
The Scottish Government pulling its financial guarantees for the delivery of this work in October led the deal to collapse and ultimately BiFab’s demise.
When InfraStrata bought the BiFab assets it said its ambitions were to bring 600 jobs to Fife.
More deals in ‘advanced negotiations’
Chief executive John Wood said the NnG contract was just a starting point with hopes for more work in the pipeline.
He said: “We are delighted to have entered into this contract with Saipem.
“This contract paves the way for the execution and delivery of future fabrication contracts, a significant number of which are currently in advanced negotiations.
“The geographical proximity of our Methil facility to the North Sea makes it an ideal site for fabrication and load-out to wind farm projects such as this.
“More importantly, it validates our strategic vision of expanding the group’s fabrication footprint into regions that are strategically located within close proximity to major wind farm projects.
“This will enable us to spread workstreams across our facilities to drive down costs, deliver against tight schedules and, crucially, align ourselves to the government’s goal of providing wind generated power to all homes in the UK by 2030.
“I am confident this is only the beginning of a stream of projects in our pipeline that we expect come to fruition.
“We are hugely excited about the massive potential that this first contract has unlocked.”
Welcome jobs boost for Fife
Methil MP Peter Grant described the contract as a “massive boost” for Methil and the rest of Levenmouth.
He said: “There’s been no shortage of bad news over the last few years.
“Today’s announcement confirms that some of the biggest names in renewable energy production have recognised Methil has what it takes to succeed.
“It’s a vote of confidence in the yard’s new management and in the skilled workforce Levenmouth can provide.
“I think it’s highly significant that Harland & Wolff’s owners are already talking optimistically about winning further contracts.
“We may be some way from the peak numbers the yard used to employ.
“But there’s a real prospect that this first contract will lead to many more.
The Scottish Government is committed to making Scotland a world leader in renewable energy production. Methil is ideally placed to play its part in delivering that vision.”
What is Neart na Gaoithe?
EDF Renewables and ESB jointly own the NnG project. It will supply enough low carbon electricity for around 375,000 homes and has a capacity of circa 450 megawatts.
This will offset over 400,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
Offshore construction for NnG started in August last year with the installation of casings for the piles.
The seabed was also prepared in advance of the arrival of the steel foundation jackets.
The foundations, used to support and anchor wind turbine generators to the seabed, are supplied and installed by Saipem.