The First Minister has officially opened the extended BASF Pharma (Callanish) Ltd plant on Lewis.
Alex Salmond met staff and management at the facility this morning, seven months after BASF – the world’s largest chemical company – took a controlling stake in Lewis based Equateq, a technology leader in lipid chemistry and pharmaceutical omega-3 fatty acid production.
Planned investment worth up to £18 million is already underway at the plant with the potential to create up to 90 new jobs in total as well as safeguarding 25 existing jobs. As part of this employment expansion, the number of people employed at the plant is already up 22 per cent to 52 and the facility is now fully operational.
Mr Salmond said: “This magnificent facility is a tangible sign of confidence not just in the skilled workforce here on Lewis, but in the future economy of the Western Isles and Scotland as a whole.
“As a world leader in their field, the opportunities brought about by BASF’s acquisition of Equateq have already seen an increase in staff numbers of 22 per cent to 52 people.
“I know the company expects that growth to continue in line with customer and market demand – and I am equally confident that the highly-skilled and dedicated workforce here on Lewis will rise to the challenge.”
Adam Kelliher, Managing Director of BASF Pharma (Callanish) Ltd, said: “Thanks to the outstanding commitment we have received from the project team, our partners and all our colleagues in Callanish, we have completed this project in record time and we are now fully operational.
“This achievement is testimony to the unique set of skills on the Isle of Lewis.”
Highlands and Islands Enterprise has committed more than £1 million to support the development at the Breasclete site.
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said: "HIE has been very pleased to work with BASF Pharma (Callanish) and its predecessor Equateq over many years to establish and grow this important business, and we warmly welcome today's opening.
"The facility at Callanish is an important contributor to the economy of Lewis and Scotland and this development enables the company to seal its position as an international leader in a highly specialised and growing market."
Scottish Enterprise has also awarded £2.95 million to support the expansion of production capacity at the facility.
Lena Wilson, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “We’ve worked closely with BASF Pharma to ensure we can support its production facility expansion with a £2.95 million Regional Selective Assistance grant. The chemical sciences industry generates £9.3 billion revenue for Scotland, and exports around £3billion every year, making it Scotland’s second top exporting sector.
“By investing in its future now, the company can accelerate its growth plans in Scotland and create real value for both the local community and Scotland’s economy as a whole.”