Premier Oil contracts create 350 jobs at Fife firm BiFab

David Cameron The Prime Minister met workers at the construction company in Buckhaven, Fife

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Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to support manufacturing, as a Fife company said it was taking on 350 workers after winning big contracts.

Burntisland Fabrications will double its workforce by the end of the year in Fife and the Isle of Lewis, after winning the work from Premier Oil.

Mr Cameron congratulated workers during a visit to the company's site, in Fife.

The prime minister said the economy had in the past become "far too reliant" on banking and financial services.

Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) will create structures for the platform at its Methil, Burntisland and Arnish yards, as Premier Oil develops its Solan oil field, west of Shetland.

Describing the company as "great British business that is doing fantastic things," Mr Cameron 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.

"I think that's something to celebrate and something to stand up for."

In recent years, BiFab has taken engineering skills learned from the oil industry and applied them to construction for offshore wind farms.

But the development of oil and gas fields in the UK Continental Shelf, west of Shetland, means there is still a lot of work in that sector too.

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Our economy had become far too reliant on financial services and banking”

End Quote David Cameron Prime Minister

At its Methil yard, the company is already working on the topside production unit for the Solan development, with design taking place in London.

BiFab has now announced that the jacket, on which the topside rests, will also be built at Methil in Fife, with some work carried out in Burntisland, along the Fife coast, and at Arnish, near Stornoway.

Built for 135m of water, it will be one of the tallest such structures made in Scotland, and is due for floating out in April 2014.

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.

"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.

"Recognising the future demands for a highly skilled work force, 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."

The Department of Energy and Climate Change approved Premier's plans for the Solan oil field in April.

It is expected to produce about 40 million barrels of oil, with an estimated initial production rate of 24,000 barrels of oil per day from the fourth quarter of 2014.

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