BiFab celebrates as work begins on £50m project

PIC � Sandy Young
PIC � Sandy Young

THE ceremonial first cut of steel for the construction of sub-sea jackets in a major offshore project was celebrated last week at Methil’s BiFab yard.

Fabrication at Levenmouth and its other premises could be worth around £50 million to the Fife company and support around 200 new jobs.

The work, for the Cygnus gas field – which lies 93 miles off the Lincolnshire coast and is the largest gas discovery in the southern North Sea for 25 years – may also enable BiFab to increase its well-publicised apprentice scheme from 85 members to around 100.

Managing director John Robertson told the Mail it was excellent to see the work coming to Britain, hopefully raising BiFab’s profile further and bolstering efforts to create a hub for the energy sector in oil and gas renewables.

Senior representatives from project partners GDF SUEZ E&P UK, Centrica and Bayerngas gathered at Methil for Thursday’s ceremony.

The entire venture is worth around £1.4 billion and BiFab’s role will be the design and fabrication of the jackets – with GDF SUEZ possibly placing a future order for fabrication of the accommodation

Three jackets are due to be delivered in April 2014, with the fourth in April 2015. BiFab’s contract covers the design, procurement and construction of the four jackets, completed with piles, with a total weight of approximately 8000 tonnes.

Mr Robertson said the work would give BiFab other opportunites for the same project, although commercial discussions were still going on.

Around 500 of its 700-strong workforce was currently based at Methil, with the others at Burntisland and Arnish, while it was expected around 140 of the additional 200 jobs would also be in Levenmouth.

While the news was good for the next couple of years, Mr Robertson stressed BiFab needed more work to keep the continuity going, and would be looking to fill the order book initially for the period around 2016-17.