#BattleforBiFab, Beatrice Wind Farm, BiFab, BOWL, BurntIsland Fabrications, China, CIP, Climate Conference, coal, Dutch multinational, ESB, Fife, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, Germany, Government of Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Lewis, Netherlands, offshore oil and gas, offshore wind farm, oil and gas, PM Theresa May, Red Rock, renewable energy, RWE, Scotland, SHL, SSE, UK, UK Export Finance, wind, Work-in
Is it just a weird coincidence that this happened during the Climate Conference? Or is it a backdoor attempt to make Scotland depend on coal, oil and gas, especially if Germany’s RWE (called Npower in the UK) and the UK’s SSE merge? SSE owns 40% of the Beatrice Offshore Wind Ltd (BOWL) project, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) owns 35%, and China’s Red Rock Power owns 25%, according to the SSE web site. BiFab is a (sub)contractor on the BOWL project to Dutch SHL. RWE operates the largest open pit coal mine in Europe.
Even as “Scotland is on track for a record year of renewable electricity generation, with output in the first half of 2017 17% greater than the same period in 2016.”, and renewables delivered “the equivalent of 54% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption in 2016,” Scottish wind energy jobs are endangered due to a contract dispute. Approximately 1400 jobs are in jeopardy in Scotland because a Scottish subcontractor (BiFab) to Dutch (SHL) the (main) contractor, working for British utility SSE, hasn’t been paid for work done. Reportedly over 2/3rds of the work has been completed by BiFab but they’ve been paid for less than 40% by SHL. (On SSE see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SSE_plc )
2 1/2 minute video on BiFab and the “work-in”: http://youtu.be/ZD_CBkrwEnA
(This video says 70% of the work has been done, but a news article says 77%.)
Yesterday, hundreds of BiFab workers marched to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood asking the Scottish government to help them: “Workers call for action to save BiFab“, 16 November 2017 http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-42010622
(Aside: Perhaps Trump should pay the workers, since some are on his maternal Isle of Lewis, instead of sending his sons on safaris to “trophy hunt” and cut off elephant tails!)
The contract in question is for the Beatrice Wind Farm. While focus is on the jobs, won’t this also undermine this project? It also looks like this project had UK government loan guarantees, which could be jeopardized.
Is it just a weird coincidence that this happened during the Climate Conference? The main players in this drama have worked in the offshore oil and gas sector (SSE, SHL, BiFab). While BiFab is apparently trying to transition to renewables, the contracting utility (SSE) and the main contractor (SHL) appear to still be involved with the oil and gas industry. Does it have to do with this, perhaps? “SSE and npower in talks to create giant UK energy supplier: New business would combine the two electricity and gas companies’ 13 million customers” https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/07/sse-npower-talks-merged-energy-supplier. “SSE merger with npower should be blocked by government, says union Proposed deal will lead to private cartel and more needless price hikes, says GMB” https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/16/sse-merger-npower-blocked-gmb
Npower is German RWE which gets over half of its energy from coal, and has the largest open pit coal mine in Europe, which is endangering the last of an ancient forest: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RWE
In the UK RWE (Npower) is a supplier of gas and electricity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Npower_(United_Kingdom)
According to the Scottish Daily Record, citing an “insider” BiFab has completed 77% of the work subcontracted to them but has been paid for less than 40%. See: “Workers at crisis-hit engineering firm BiFab stage work-in not knowing if they’ll get paid: Staff at Burntisland Fabrications clocked on as usual with no guarantee of any wages for their efforts“, by Jame Moncur, 14 Nov 2017, Scottish Daily Record.
Ewan Gibbs succinctly phrased it on twitter:
“Ewan Gibbs @ewangibbs #BattleforBiFab rally: A “responsible workforce” fighting “A Dutch multinational and an energy conglomerate” to save jobs, communities and Scottish industry.” https://twitter.com/ewangibbs/status/931128712300515330
From a Press Release, “PM meeting with Nicola Sturgeon: 14 November 2017” we learn that British Prime Minister Theresa May met with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon at Downing Street and that one of the points discussed was BiFab: “The First Minister spoke about BiFab who has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators with the Scottish Courts. The Prime Minister said this is a worrying time for the workers of BiFab and their families and the UK Government is ready to provide whatever support we can.” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-meeting-with-nicola-sturgeon-14-november-2017
Note that Irish government owned ESB just opened an office in Glasgow and has big wind farm plans in Scotland: https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/esb-targets-scotland-for-wind-farm-expansion-in-strategy-to-grow-uk-presence-35701311.html
“Powering up in the renewable energy sector with UKEF support
From: UK Export Finance
Part of: UK Export Finance: success stories
Published: 20 February 2017
UK Export Finance (UKEF) helps renewable energy supplier BiFab access finance to fulfil a major contract. BurntIsland Fabrications Ltd (BiFab), is a Scottish manufacturer of high-quality steel fabrications for the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors. The company is 16 years old and employs over 1,000 people across two sites in Fife and a third facility at Lewis.
BiFab’s main strength is in the oil and gas sector, but the growth of the renewable energy industry has led the company to diversify. It is now a leading supplier with a strong track record in offshore wind, wave and tidal power as well.
As evidence of this success, BiFab recently won a major contract with Dutch EPC contractor SHL to supply fabrication work for the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm. The contract, worth in excess of £100 million, was a significant one for BiFab and helped secure jobs at its sites.
However, as part of the terms of the contract, the buyer required performance and warranty bonds from BiFab’s bank, RBS. Due to the size of the contract, the bond requirements were significant, and the bank required additional security in order to issue the bonds.
Jon Boyce, Senior Export Finance Manager for the Devolved Regions, worked with BiFab to provide a solution. RBS was able to issue the bonds to the overseas buyer while UKEF provided the bank with a UK government-backed guarantee, meaning that BiFab was able to hold back cash to use to fulfil the contract.
Senior Export Finance Manager for the Devolved Regions, Jon Boyce, said:
BiFab is a strategically important company in the east of Scotland and is a major employer within the local community. UK Export Finance is delighted to have helped it succeed with this large contract and provide the bank with the additional security required to issue the performance bonds.”
EPC stands for engineering, construction and project manager.
“Crane vessel begins work on Beatrice wind farm“, 4 April 2017 http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-39492467
Ownership hasn’t been updated in the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrice_Wind_Farm