Weekly update, 19th May

Energy & Business Services:

Two welcome pieces of news for the local economy this week. Firstly Subsea 7 has announced a major new £270 million contract to build a pipeline for Premier Oil to service its oil field east of Aberdeen. The 60km pipeline will be fabricated at Subsea 7’s Wester site, using its 7km rail tracks. The company has recently invested in new multi-million pound infrastructure at the northern end of its railtracks, and the Premier Oil contract is expected to provide work for 130-140 staff at Wester until at least 2016, with a further 100 jobs in the local supply chain. It’s another great success for Willie Watt and his colleagues, reinforcing Subsea 7’s important economic value to Caithness, and highlighting again the area’s capabilities in the energy sector.

Second piece of good news this week comes from John Gunn & Sons, who have been awarded a £1M contract associated with the development of the Strathy North windfarm in North Sutherland. The contract, awarded by RJ Macleod as main contractor to SSE Renewables, will see Gunn’s utilising their quarry in Melvich, thus bringing both job security to existing staff and creating new jobs. As reported last week, SSE’s “Open 4 Business” web portal – supported by CNSRP partners HIE and Highland Council – offers local companies a route into contract opportunities.

There was a local presence at this week’s All-Energy Conference & Exhibition in Aberdeen. CNSRP partners have taken a lead role in facilitating this: HIE’s Energy Pavilion was once again a focal point for representatives from across the Highlands & Islands, and several Caithness companies had a presence on the Highland Council-led “Enterprising Highland” stand. Caithness Chamber of Commerce’s Invest Caithness presence attracted a number of enquiries, including one from a Conference delegate considering relocating to Caithness. HIE’s local inward investment team were also in Aberdeen for a series of meetings with companies as part of our ongoing programme of inward investment activity.

Enabling activities:

Next week will see an event to highlight the value of North Highland Regeneration Fund, the loan fund established with financial support from CNSRP partner the NDA. The fund has supported a number of businesses since its inception, injecting over £1.5M in loan funding. The Fund remains open to businesses in the north Highlands with loans of between £5,000 and £50,000. The Fund is managed by Caithness Chamber of Commerce. The Fund’s new brand identity is on its website.

Communications:

As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

  • Good to see Catriona Metcalf’s article on KP Technology in today’s John O’Groat Journal. I met KP Technology staff at a recent event held by HIE, and heard of the exciting work going on at the company’s Wick base with a team of dynamic individuals. The company manufactures Kelvin Probes and exports them to countries around the world.