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Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Shipyard seeks orders as drill ship named

Harland and Wolff: Oil industry work is drying up

Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff celebrates the completion of an advanced drilling ship for a Texas based oil company with a traditional naming ceremony on Thursday.

But the Glomar CR Luigs, and a sister ship for the same company, Global Marine, are the last firm orders which the company has.

The second vessel is also nearing completion and the shipyard is now seeking to return to defence industry work for the first time in a decade.

[ image: Tough times ahead in spite of a return to profit]
Tough times ahead in spite of a return to profit
Harland and Wolff has tendered to build two landing craft for the Royal Navy and is trying to win work on two new aircraft carriers as part of a consortium.

The company says it has also been shortlisted for an oil drilling ship for Shell and is hoping to win a contract to build the hull of passenger vessel.

Earlier this year Harland and Wolff bucked the trend in the depressed British shipbuilding industry by announcing a return to profits.

The shipyard managed to turn a loss of £1.5m in 1998 into a £5m profit this year.

But the company's prospects of staying as an oil industry specialist have been depressed by low oil prices and the aggressive pricing policies of South Korean yards.

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