InfraStrata-owned Harland & Wolff has been handed a major fillip with the award of a a £26 million ($35 million) contract to build eight wind turbine generator foundation jackets for the 450 megawatt Neart na Gaoithe (NNG) wind farm at its newly acquired Methil site in Scotland, creating almost 300 new jobs in the process.

Harland & Wolff was handed the sub-contract by Italian giant Saipem, the main construction contractor to NNG partners EDF Renewables and ESB on the $2.5 billion scheme.

InfraStrata struck a deal with troubled fabricator Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab) in February to acquire the Methil site in Fife and the Arnish facility on the west coast of Scotland for up to £850,000 ($1.17 million) in cash, with both trading under the Harland & Wolff brand.

That deal did not include BiFab’s Burntisland site, also in Fife.

Work will start on 1 July and will be carried out at Methil, creating about 290 direct and indirect jobs, Saipem and the NNG partners said.

The Arnish yard and Harland & Wolff's other sites at Appledore and Belfast could also provide support if needed.

The foundations to support and anchor NNG’s wind turbine generator jackets to the seabed are being supplied and installed by Saipem, which will also supply and install an additional two jackets for the offshore substations.

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NNG project director Matthias Haag said: “This is an important day for the offshore wind sector in Scotland and for our project.

“When we announced our main contractors in 2019, we made clear our commitment to the Scottish supply chain and the role it has to play in the construction of NNG.

“That’s why this contract signing is such good news. We are pleased the contract has been awarded to Harland & Wolff with the bulk of the work taking place in Scotland.”

Mauro Piasere, head of offshore new energies in Saipem’s E&C offshore division, said: “The NNG wind farm is a key project for Saipem in an area of rising growth and potential such as the North Sea.

“The execution by InfraStrata stands to demonstrate the possibility for the North Sea fabrication industry to play a competitive role in the renewables market.

“Our vision is to create value in those countries where we operate and this collaboration with InfraStrata confirms this and allows us to contribute to the country's system involving the local supply chain”.

InfraStrata chief executive John Wood said: “We are delighted to have entered into this contract with Saipem.

“This contract paves the way for the execution and delivery of future fabrication contracts, a significant number of which are currently in advanced negotiations.”

Wood highlighted the proximity of the Methil facility to the North Sea, which he said makes it “an ideal site for fabrication and load-out to wind farm projects such as this”.

“More importantly, it validates our strategic vision of expanding the group’s fabrication footprint into regions that are strategically located within close proximity to major wind farm projects.”

Offshore construction for NNG started in August last year with the installation of casings for the piles and preparing the seabed in advance of the arrival of the steel foundation jackets.

Upstream reported in February that development work on NNG had run into difficulties amid a commercial negotiation between EDF and Saipem linked to soil and foundations.

The Italian contractor revealed earlier this year during a fourth-quarter results call with analysts that it was facing “slow progress on a project in the North Sea” in the offshore renewables sector, which it did not name but was understood to be NNG.

NNG was Saipem’s first ever turnkey offshore wind farm construction project award.

Welcoming the award, Melanie Onn, deputy chief executive of industry group RenewableUK, said: "This is another example of how the UK's offshore wind supply chain is a key part of the green industrial revolution which will play a leading role in the UK's economic recovery after the pandemic."

“Our world-leading industry is stepping up fast to quadruple the UK's current offshore wind capacity by 2030, which offers significant supply chain opportunities."