Arnish to be active again “by august”, say company

The incoming operators of the Arnish yard in Lewis expect it to be active by August with around 12 people on site, including two apprentices and two workers there who are currently furloughed.

By Murray MacLeod
Thursday, 27th May 2021, 9:45 am
The company say they hope to have 20 to 30 employees on site by the end of the year
The company say they hope to have 20 to 30 employees on site by the end of the year

This was one of the few hard pieces of information to emerge from a Stakeholder Presentation put on by Infrastrata on Tuesday when a wide range of participants were briefed on-line about the company’s hopes and intentions.

Most of the talking was done by Infrastrata chief executive John Wood who outlined the markets which the company is targeting under its brand name, Harland & Wolff, having bought the famous Belfast yard out of administration in 2019.

Mr Wood said he would be disappointed if there were not “20 to 30” employees on site at Arnish by the end of the year.

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He said that looking for work across five sectors – including defence contracts and renewable energy – was a “new approach” which would protect them against a downturn in any one of them, as had happened in the past.

There was no opportunity for direct questioning and Mr Wood avoided answering written submissions on issues like rates of pay which have been causing concern both to trade unions and also the local “grapevine” based on information coming out of Infrastrata’s yards at Belfast, Appledore and Methil.

On renewable energy, Mr Wood stressed the large amount of upcoming work, including floating offshore wind projects off the Westerns Isles.

While stressing the need to be competitive, he also said that conditions for these licenses were encouraging a “bidding war for local content”.

Mr Wood spoke about possible synergies with other yards while the company’s footprint across the UK would allow them to bid for larger contracts than would otherwise be the case.

He thought, initially, work would come to Arnish as part of jobs won elsewhere but said the yard would also be seeking work in its own right.

Those on the call were introduced to Albert Allan, newly appointed general manager at Arnish, who is now present on the island and actively seeking work. The initial range of inquiries, he said, had been “very encouraging”.

In a formal press statement announcing his arrival at Arnish, the company said: “With the Isle of Lewis site focused on the renewable, oil and gas and general maritime sectors, Mr Allan brings 33 years of experience in project, operations and construction management.

"He joins Harland & Wolff (Arnish) from KCA Deutag where he was Senior Vice President for the RDS Business Unit and member of the executive board.”

Mr Allan also held roles at The Oman Oil Construction Company as General Manager; Mott MacDonald as Global Managing Director for its oil, gas and petrochemicals business; Global Energy Group as Chief Operating Officer; and 24 years at KBR where he worked on a range of projects across the world.

Mr Allan said: “I am delighted to be returning to the Highlands and Islands and getting Harland & Wolff (Arnish) up and running, helping to establish and develop our energy and marine business, delivering skilled employment and contributing to the local economy here on Lewis.”