Major Harland & Wolff contract


HARLAND & Wolff has won a contract worth over £100 million Which will safeguard 1,400 jobs at the Belfast shipyard for the present, and is hoped will lead to future similar multi million pound orders.

The company, in a consortium with a number of other companies, is to build a floating production storage and off loading vessel (FPSO) for BP Exploration. The vessel, due to be completed in autumn next year, will operate over the Schiehallion oil field 125 miles west of the Shetland Islands in waters up to 1,500 feet deep.

The company last year reported pre tax operating losses of £16.9 million and figures for the past 12 months, due soon, are feared to be even worse.

Harland & Wolff, however, is hoping that the venture into producing state of the art floating oil rigs will prove a lucrative lifeline for the company.

Mr Per Nielsen, Harland & Wolff's chief executive, yesterday indicated that future orders were expected, possibly enabling around 800 new jobs to be created.

While such vessels are already operating at oil fields around the world, the Harland & Wolff vessel will be the world's largest newly built FPSO. It will have a storage capacity of nearly one million barrels of oil, and the ability to process around 140,000 barrels of oil per day.