Highlands & Islands

Talks held on safeguarding jobs at Arnish yard on Lewis

Welder generic Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Assurances are being sought on fabrication jobs on Lewis

Talks have been taking place on how jobs at an island fabrication yard can be safeguarded during a downturn in the UK oil and gas industry.

The site at Arnish near Stornoway on Lewis is operated by BiFab, a fabrication company based in Burntisland in Fife.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Enterprise have held talks with the firm.

Western Isles SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has sought assurances on the jobs.

He has asked for a meeting with Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.

The UK offshore oil and gas industry has reported its worst annual performance for four decades.

Industry body Oil & Gas UK said falling oil prices and rising costs meant the sector spent and invested £5.3bn more than it earned from sales during 2014.

That outflow of cash was the biggest since massive investment in platforms in the 1970s preceded the flow of oil.

The body's annual survey also indicated that investment in the industry is set to fall this year, as well as drilling.

HIE upgraded the yard at Arnish at a cost of about £3m in 2011.

The project to revamp the site included re-cladding a huge fabrication building and importing steel rolling equipment from Italy.

Two previous operators of the yard went bust despite multi-million pound investments in the site by HIE.

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