A total of 350 new jobs are to be created after a Scottish engineering firm won two new contracts worth £140 million to build components for an oil platform.
Burntisland Fabrications (Bifab) announced it had been awarded the contracts for the design, procurement and construction of major components for a new oil platform for Premier Oil's Solan development to the west of Shetland. The deal means Bifab's workforce will have doubled in size by December this year, the company said.
It will also allow the firm to continue its apprenticeship programme, which it began five years ago.
Visiting Bifab in Fife, Prime Minister David Cameron told workers that in the past Britain's economy was “too reliant on financial services and banking”.
Cameron stressed the importance of “high-quality manufacturing” and said that the government would “try and do our bit” to help manufacturing.
He said: “Our economy had become far too reliant on financial services and banking, rather than actually making things. And here what you're going to be doing over these coming years, if everything goes well in the oil sector and the renewables sector, is really important, high-quality manufacturing, and I think that's something to celebrate and something to stand up for.”
He added: “It is absolutely vital we have got diverse supplies of energy, that we fully exploit the North Sea and the oil and gas that is available but also we make the most of the renewable energies of the future, and you're doing both those things right here at Bifab.”
The first contract is for a 3,500-tonne topsides module – the part of an oil platform which sits above the water and that houses the oil production plant, accommodation block and the drilling rig.
The second contract is for an 8,000-tonne jacket that forms an oil platform's underwater support structure.
The work is expected to be completed by April 2014 and will involve Bifab's sites at Methil and Burntisland in Fife and Arnish on the Isle of Lewis.
Bifab managing director John Robertson said: “The two contracts were won, we believe, not only due to a commercially attractive bid, but also due to the ability and experience of Bifab's management and workforce to deliver a quality product, on schedule and with a good safety culture.”
He added: “This latest success enhances Bifab's growing reputation as a major manufacturer of topsides and jackets for the North Sea. Bifab is known as one of the largest manufacturers of jacket sub-structures for offshore wind turbines but this is the largest jacket to date for the oil and gas sector.”
Robertson added: “Recognising the future demands for a highly skilled workforce, Bifab introduced an apprenticeship training scheme in 2007 with the aim to have a rolling programme of 50 apprentices in the scheme at any one time. The award of this project will allow us to continue this programme.”
Meanwhile Premier's Oil's regional manager for the North Sea, Nigel Wilson, said: “We are delighted to have awarded the contracts for the jacket and topsides, which constitute the largest components of the Solan field development, to Bifab.”
Scottish secretary Michael Moore hailed the awarding of the contracts to Bifab as “testament to the confidence and capability of Scotland's manufacturing and oil sectors”.
He added: “It is good news, particularly in terms of the 350 additional jobs which will be created, and underlines the strength of the North Sea industry and the industries which support it.”