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Marine / Port encouraged by rise in offshore activity

The extended Dales Voe pier has already received the first oil installation for decommissioning. Photo: John Coutts/LPADales Voe. Photo: John Coutts/LPA

LERWICK Port Authority says it is “cautiously optimistic” after experiencing a significant rise in levels of offshore activity.

In the first nine months of 2019 the cargo handled for the oil and gas sector rose by 77 per cent to 67,537, compared to the same period last year.

Vessel arrivals increased by 14.2 per cent to 289, and tonnage of shipping was up 46.8 per cent to 1.535 million gross tonnes.

Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Captain Calum Grains said: “The continuing upward movement in servicing offshore activity in the northern North Sea and Atlantic is encouraging and we remain cautiously optimistic for the future.”

More generally, the total number of arrivals and tonnage of vessels remained steady during the period.

Cargo increased nine per cent to 679,744 tonnes, including a four per cent rise in freight on Serco NorthLink services.

The north boats had nearly 10 per cent more passengers at 122,061. Fewer than anticipated cruise passengers during the cruise season, however, meant the total passengers at Lerwick decreased one per cent to 197,636 over the nine months.

Captain Grains said: “The footfall highlights ferries as an alternative to flying to the mainland and the importance of meeting users’ expectations. Cruise bookings for next year should mean a record season.”

There were also 182,554 boxes of white fish landed between January and September, a decrease of 8.3 per cent. There was an average price of £2,021 per tonne, up 3.8 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.