Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil last night (Saturday November 11) expressed his concern at media reports - on the BBC and in the Scotsman amongst others - that Burntisland Fabricators (BiFab) is on the verge of calling in administrators.
Bi-Fab runs the yard at Arnish which employs in the region of 150 people, in addition to two yards in Fife, meaning it employs around 600 in all.
The firm builds large-scale equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry, as well as platforms for offshore wind turbines and tidal generators.
The BBC reported last night that BiFab has cash-flow problems linked to a contract for the Beatrice offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth. Bi-Fab is thought to be in discussions with Scottish Enterprise.
Commenting Angus MacNeil said: “This is a massive blow for the workforce at Arnish and their families who will undoubtedly be very worried.
“It is imperative that all agencies come together to save these jobs.
“I have tonight contacted Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy.”
Set up almost 20 years ago, Bi-Fab expanded to the massive Methil yard and took on the Arnish yard, both of which have seen cycles of boom and bust.
According to the BBC, the 22,000-tonne, £100m deal to build 26 of the 84 jackets for the Beatrice project in the Moray Firth, for final delivery by next April, appears to be the source of the financial difficulties. BiFab is sub-contracted to Seaway Heavy Lifting, which is building the project for a consortium led by Perth-based energy firm SSE, with quarter of its funding from China.
The BiFab proposal for delivering the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Project was based on utilising a percentage of capacity at all three BiFab facilities at Arnish and Burntisland, with final assembly and loadout from the BiFab Methil facility.
As the final crisis for Lewis Offshore almost 20 years ago showed, the subcontractors on these major projects - who tend to find themselves with all their eggs in one contractual basket - can easily find themselves running out of cash to keep the business alive.
At the time of the contract being awarded, the late John Robertson, BiFab Managing Director stated: “We are delighted that BiFab has been selected as part of the supply chain for this major UK Infrastructure project. BiFab manufactured the two Beatrice demonstrators in 2006, and we have been monitoring closely the development of the Beatrice Project over the last 10 years. We are very pleased that SSE and their partners are moving forward with the full development of the Beatrice Project.
Mr Robertson died aged 60 on 24 August this year after a short illness. Robertson, a well-known figure in the UK oil and gas industry, helped form BiFab in 2001 when he led a management buyout of facilities previously owned by Norway’s Prosafe.
At the time of the Beatrice contract being awarded, the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse said: "By winning this £100m contract to provide 26 jacket substructures, BiFab will be able to cement their position as a key supplier to a new offshore wind industry and utilise their facilities in Fife and in the Western Isles to further spread, across Scotland, the economic benefits arising from this exciting, £2.6bn offshore wind development."