Nicola Sturgeon 'Optimistic' About Future Of BiFab Engineering Firm

22 November 2017, 15:01 | Updated: 22 November 2017, 15:03

First Minister

There is "every reason to be optimistic" about the longer term future of engineering firm BiFab, Scotland's First Minister has said.

An agreement was reached on Saturday that lifted the threat of administration from the company, and will see work continue on the current contract for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm.

A financial package to complete the contract has been provided by Seaway Heavy Lifting, SSE and the partners to the Beatrice project, JCE Offshore.

The firm employs 1,400 people at yards in Fife and Lewis.

Nicola Sturgeon, speaking on a visit to the company's Methil site in Fife, said the firm had been "within minutes" of calling in administrators.

The agreement - reached following intensive talks - will secure work until next April and efforts are under way to identify other contracts and secure BiFab's long-term future.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this company came within minutes of going into administration and could have gone into administration at several different points."

She added: "Scottish Enterprise is already working closely with BiFab and looking at issues of investment in the yards, support for the productivity of the company, so that work will continue and indeed intensify.

"I was very clear at the weekend that what we did last week - with the help of the workforce which played a significant part - was come to an agreement that got over the short-term difficulty, lifted the threat of administration and funded the Beatrice contracts that are currently on the books, but there is still a lot of work to be done for the long-term.

"One of the reasons I wanted to visit here today to speak to the workforce is just to make clear the Scottish Government will play our full part in trying to secure the longer term future of this company.

"There is every reason to be optimistic but that doesn't mean there is not a lot of work that needs to be done including investment that needs to be done to secure it."

The Scottish Government has also made a commercial loan facility available to BiFab.

"Our decision to make available if it's necessary a commercial loan facility demonstrates we think that where there is a role for the government, the government should play that role," Ms Sturgeon said.