BiFab close in on new work as closure looms


Under-threat engineering firm BiFab is understood to be down to the final two bidders for a project that would give it enough work to keep its Fife yards open until at least 2019.
The firm, which was bailed out by a £15 million loan from the Scottish Government at the end of last year, is due to run out of work at the end of this month, when its contract on the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm comes to an end.
It has been gradually laying off agency staff as their fixed-term contracts come to an end and in February began a redundancy consultation with all of its 220 permanent staff.
However, a source close to the firm said it was now one of two bidders being considered for work on the Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Project, a seven-turbine floating array planned for the waters off Aberdeen.
The source said that winning this contract would provide a lifeline for BiFab as it would give it enough work to keep operating until larger projects come up for tender later this year.
“The Kincardine project will be announced in April, I think, and it looks quite promising,” the source said.
“The contract is to construct six jackets. If they get six that would take them into next year.
“The thing is there will then be some really big contracts announced this September.”

 

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Upcoming projects that BiFab would be expecting to bid for include a two-turbine development in the Firth of Forth from 2-B Energy and the £2 billion Neart na Gaoithe windfarm, which is planned for the waters off Fife.
The latter project was delayed by court action from the RSPB, which had argued that the turbines would pose a threat to local populations of gannets, puffins and kittiwakes.
The UK Supreme Court called a halt to that case in November last year, clearing the way for developer Mainstream Renewable Power to start fundraising for the project.
It is expected that it will be in a position to tender for the work later this year.
BiFab, which manufactures large-scale components for the renewables and infrastructure industries, has been finishing off its work on Beatrice over the last few weeks and is due to consolidate its operations at its Methil site as that continues. That will see the remaining staff based at its Burntisland yard transfer to Methil.
BiFab launched its redundancy consultation in mid-February, meaning it could start letting its permanent staff go in the final week of this month.
It is understood that the successful bidder for the Kincardine project will be announced in April.
If the redundancies go ahead it is expected that the two Fife yards as well as the firm’s site at Arnish on the Isle of Lewis will close completely by the end of June.
Despite this, the Scottish Government is still playing an active role in helping BiFab’s management secure the firm’s future either through an investment or buyout. In January it was confirmed that Canadian manufacturing business Barnes Group and a firm from China had both made bids for the company.

 

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