Relief as payout to H&W shipyard goes ahead

The future of Belfast’s troubled Harland and Wolff shipyard looked brighter tonight after it announced that an American customer was finally paying well over £20m to them following a year-long legal fight over the money.

The future of Belfast’s troubled Harland and Wolff shipyard looked brighter tonight after it announced that an American customer was finally paying well over £20m to them following a year-long legal fight over the money.

The yard said the payout should give potential customers the confidence to do business with them.

US oil exploration company Global Marine refused to pay the money - the final instalment on the second of two sophisticated oil drill ships -last July

The Texas-based company claimed the vessel was late and not up to standard.

Harland and Wolff went to arbitration last September and won an order for the money to be paid. It amounted to $27m and $3.3m.

Global in turn went to court and overturned the arbitration decision but it was reversed on appeal by the shipyard recently.

However, instead of receiving the money they were notified Global Marine was appealing to the House of Lords.

The yard said tonight that the appeal had been dropped and the money - plus interest since the end of September last year - would be paid to them by close of business tomorrow (Wednesday).

Welcoming confirmation that the monies were now to be paid, shipyard chief executive Brynjulv Mugaas said he was pleased Global had finally decide to pay up and halt the appeal to the Lords.

He said receipt of the money would "significantly improve" the yard’s overall financial position "by enabling us to repay the remainder of our bank debt".

Mr Mugaas added: "This will remove a major uncertainty which has existed on the part of potential customers over the past year. Accordingly, there is no financial reason to inhibit potential customers from coming to Harland and Wolff."

He said this, together with the technical excellence of recent deliveries, would enable them to give potential customers "the degree of confidence which they require in the long-term future of Harland and Wolff as we seek to extend our order book with further major shipbuilding orders".

The yard is currently beginning work on two sophisticated roll-on roll-Off ferries for the British Ministry of Defence.

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