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    Study will examine future options for Highland fabrication yards

    Yard News // December 6, 2002
    A major study is about to get under way to examine the potential for generating future employment at major ports and fabrication yards in the central Highlands in Scotland.

    Highlands and Islands Enterprise, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and The Highland Council, has commissioned the Halcrow group to investigate market opportunities for a range of inter-linked industrial sites, including ports around the inner Moray Firth and the KBR Caledonia offshore fabrication yard at Nigg.

    Separate research, looking closely at options for the former fabrication yard at Ardersier, has already been completed and its findings will be incorporated into Halcrow's final report.

    Between them, the fabrication yards at Nigg and Ardersier once employed 5,000 workers and helped support hundreds more jobs in the area's ports and supply chain companies.

    With the global downturn in the oil industry in the late 1990s, however, order books emptied and the yards fell silent.

    Nigg, which famously boasts Europe's largest dry dock, is currently kept on a care and maintenance basis. Ardersier's owners, J Ray McDermott, announced in August that work at the inner Moray Firth yard had ceased.

    News of the study was announced by Brian Wilson MP, Minister for Energy and Construction at the Department of Trade and Industry, during a visit to Inverness on Thursday 14 November.

    Wilson said: "I was concerned earlier this year that the world class facility at Nigg could be lost to the UK's Energy sector. That is why I asked DTI officials to look closely at options for the future of the site.

    "I am particularly pleased that we have been able to incorporate specific work to identify the way ahead for Nigg within the scope of the wider review by HIE and The Highland Council for all of the Moray Firth. This is an excellent example of UK Government, Regional Authorities and Economic Development Agencies coordinating their work strategically and cost effectively.

    "Today's announcement is an important first step in determining sustainable long term uses for the Nigg fabrication yard, its related dry-dock and the other ports and sites around the Moray Firth."The region has a huge amount to contribute to a wide range of industries but in particular I'm looking for the study to help develop a strategy to keep skills and jobs here and to help transfer them, where appropriate, to the renewables sector."

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