Lowestoft firm SLP in contract dispute

A LEADING company boasting a workforce of 1,000 yesterday insisted it was 'business as usual' despite facing a large claim for money in a contract dispute.

A LEADING company boasting a workforce of 1,000 yesterday insisted it was 'business as usual' despite facing a large claim for money in a contract dispute.

SLP Engineering, of Lowestoft, robustly hit back at the claims and revealed it had launched its own multi-million pound claim against Maersk Oil Qatar.

There was joy in the east coast town in the autumn of 2006 when SLP landed the lucrative contract from Maersk to build accommodation modules for oil rigs.

However, the deal has now turned sour, with Maersk claiming there has been a 'series of commercial, financial and scheduling problems with SLP.'

It has emerged that Maersk terminated the contract last September and has initiated arbitration proceedings against SLP to recover funds.

A statement from Maersk said: 'At the time a very significant number of man-hours of contractual work remained incomplete, despite concessions on the work schedule, payment terms and, most recently, the provision of financial support to SLP Engineering by Maersk Oil Qatar.'

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In response, SLP hit back insisting Maersk's statement was 'completely misleading and inaccurate'.

An SLP statement said: 'SLP has undertaken all reasonable efforts to work with and accommodate Maersk Oil Qatar on the Al Shaheen field development project in Qatar. The four accommodation modules have been delivered to Maersk from Lowestoft and all four accommodation platforms are installed in Qatar.

'SLP entirely reject's Maersk's allegations that SLP has failed to honour its contractual obligations and will vigorously defend the claim from Maersk. Moreover, SLP will be furthering its own claims, which are far in excess of the amounts claimed by Maersk.'

The exact value of the contract has never been publicly revealed, but it was reported to be a multi-million pound deal when it was signed in 2006.

SLP chief executive David Edwards said SLP's current order book also accounted for 3,000 indirect jobs.

He added: 'We are disappointed that Maersk has commenced arbitration proceedings for additional payment for work done when SLP has submitted multi-million pound claims to Maersk, none of which has been properly addressed or resolved.

'These matters will be resolved through the arbitration process. In the meantime, we are grateful for the continued support of our suppliers, stakeholders and customers.'

An SLP spokesman added: 'The situation at SLP remains very much business as usual.'

Jakob Thomasen, managing director of Maersk Oil Qatar, said: 'SLP Engineering has not honoured its contractual obligations despite our efforts to assist where possible and Maersk Oil Qatar is today a significant creditor of SLP Engineering.

'We have had no option but to initiate arbitration to seek recovery.'

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