Acquisition Not Magic Solution for BiFab, but New OWFs Could Be

BiFab site in Methil; Image source: BiFab/ archive

A number of consented offshore wind projects present a big opportunity to get BiFab back on its feet, according to the Scottish Government. BiFab was acquired by Canadian JV Driver in April as part of the government’s intervention to save the Fife-based company, however, it still needs new contracts to secure its future operation. 

BiFab site in Methil; Image source: BiFab/ archive

“When the acquisition by DF Barnes was announced, it was made very clear that it was not a magic solution and that hard times still lay ahead. The yard has to win contracts,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament on 10 May.

BiFab emerged as a topic while Sturgeon answered questions from Lewis Macdonald, MSP for North East Scotland, regarding the impact of EDF Renewables’ takeover of Neart na Gaoithe on the supply chain in Scotland. In this context, the two also discussed the opportunities that offshore wind farms bring to companies like BiFab and the need for workers’ (re)training to take full advantages of new offshore wind projects.

“Although there are no guarantees, this is one of the projects that give grounds for optimism for the future of companies such as BiFab,” Nicola Sturgeon said.

Scotland’s Economy Secretary Keith Brown referred to offshore wind projects that BiFab and other such companies could tap into were after the announcement of the company’s takeover. These include the consented offshore wind farms Kincardine, Moray East, Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen. Brown added that there are also opportunities with projects such as Hornsea Project Two, East Anglia THREE and Dogger Bank.

“While these are commercial decisions for the developers, our aim is to secure as much work on as many of these projects for Scotland as possible,” Brown stated in April.

Upon the acquisition of BiFab by JV Driver, through its subsidiary DF Barnes, the Scottish Government bought a minority stake in the new company to demonstrate its continued commitment to supporting the future of BiFab’s yards.

To remind, BiFab faced a critical cash position in November 2017 due to a challenging situation regarding the ongoing contracts, specifically the GBP 100 million contract from June 2016 to supply 26 wind turbine jacket substructures for the 588MW Beatrice offshore wind farm. Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL), SSE and the partners to the Beatrice offshore wind project, JCE Offshore, provided a financial package that had made sure BiFab was safe until April and that it completes the Beatrice contract.

Offshore WIND Staff