Port confident despite drop in oil related traffic

The multi-purpose oil support vessel Havila Phoenix entering Lerwick harbour - Photo: ShetNews

LERWICK Port Authority saw a two per cent downturn in vessel arrivals last year as a result of a sizeable fall in oil-related shipping.

A total of 4,970 vessels arrived into the port in 2015, a figure very much in line with forecasts.

While the overall number of arrivals was down by two per cent, oil-related movements dropped by one fifth.


Cargo handled in the port was 1,082,068 tonnes, a fall of nine per cent, while overall tonnage of all vessels dropped by 5.8 per cent to 11.5 million gross tonnes because of fewer cruise ships.

The number of tourists arriving on the ships fell by 30 per cent to 30,430, but this was countered by a 1.4 per cent increase to 137,529 passengers on the NorthLink lifeline ferry service from Aberdeen and Kirkwall.

Overall, the number of passengers entering Lerwick was 167,959, a fall of six per cent.

Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson said the instability in the oil industry would continue to put pressure on port business but the number of cruise ships visiting the Shetland capital was set to return to a high levels again.


“The severe contraction in offshore industry operations is continuing and will impact again on the overall performance in 2016,” she said.

“However, we will be protected to some extent by the range of users and activity at the port, a positive factor going forward. Cruise traffic will recover to record levels, with 70 vessels booked and 50,000-plus passengers expected.

“Completion of the Holmsgarth North jetty in the autumn will encourage fishing industry activity and is another step towards building a new white fish market.

“Completion of the Dales Voe South quay extension in summer will provide additional deep-water facilities for future offshore industry subsea project support and decommissioning.”

Fish landings meanwhile also experienced a downturn last year, with a total amount of 64,000 tonnes – priced at £46.6 million – down 24 per cent on value and 8.6 per cent on volume.

The volume of white fish landed was unchanged at 9,800 tonnes, with its value dropping by two per cent.

Summer herring landings was up in value and volume, but international markets affected the mackerel sector.