Prime Minister David Cameron has given official blessing to £140 million of contracts awarded to Scotland’s Burntisland Fabrications to construct a new UK offshore platform.

The Prime Minister was in Scotland to witness the signing of the contracts for construction of the West of Shetland Solan oil field development, operated by Premier Oil..

Up to 350 new workers are being taken on by Bifab at its Scottish construction sites at Methil in Fife, and at Arnish on the Isle of Lewis to support the contracts. Construction is due to take place at both the Methil and Arnish sites.

“Our economy had become far too reliant on financial services and banking, rather than actually making things,” the Prime Minister told workers as he toured the Bifab site at Fife. “And here, what you’re going to be doing over these coming years, if everything goes well in the oil sector and the renewables sector, is really important, high-quality manufacturing,” BBC News quoted the PM as saying.

At Fife, Bifab is already constructing topsides for the Solan platform, while work on the jacket will also now take place at Fife. Some of the construction work will also be carried out in Burntisland, and at Arnish in Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis.

John Roberston, managing director at Bifab, told the BBC: “The two contracts were won we believe, not only due to a commercially attractive bid, but also due to the ability and experience of BiFab’s management and workforce to deliver a quality product, on schedule and with a good safety culture.
Previously Bifab won a contract to build the Oyster 800 wave energy for Aquamarine Power, which is due to be deployed offshore Scotland.

Developed of Solan was approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change back in April. Solan, which is estimated to contain up to 40 million barrels of oil, is due onstream in the fourth quarter 2014, using a conventional fixed platform and steel jacket. Up to four wells are planned for a phase one development of the field, and project costs have been indicated at up to £850 million.

Chrysaor was originally the operator of the development but Premier took over as operator in January this year, after acquiring 60% equity in the project.