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Marine / Offshore and ferry numbers up at Lerwick port

Odfjelll Drilling's Deepsea Aberdeen using Lerwick Harbour's sheltered anchorages during its West of Shetland drilling campaign at BP’s Loyal Field. Photo: Alexander Simpson

THE NUMBER of oil industry-related vessels using Lerwick Port Authority’s facilities was up by seven per cent last year.

The rise to 368 vessels included a 28 per cent rise in supply and anchor handling ships.

Shipments to-and-from the sector’s operations in the North Sea and Atlantic jumped 49 per cent to 76,171 tonnes in 2019 compared to the previous year.

The sector’s contribution helped to bring overall cargo up 6.4 per cent to 885,759 tonnes.

Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Captain Calum Grains said: “The upturn in this important activity is good news for Lerwick and Shetland and has been driven by the gradual recovery across the sector, including subsea decommissioning support – one of the port’s specialisms – and more seismic research, another good sign.”

The number of people using the NorthLink ferry to Shetland, meanwhile, increased in 2019 by 10.2 per cent on the previous year.

The total passenger number sat at 148,397.

While there was a decrease in the expected cruise passengers due to cancellations, a record number of ships visited the port.

Total vessel arrivals, meanwhile, dropped three per cent to 5,068, with gross tonnage also down slightly at 12.5 million. Pilotage movements, though, rose 12.5 per cent to 1,054.

White fish landed during the year amounted to 230,081 boxes, an eight per cent decrease for the 12 months to December.

Captain Grains said: “There were the usual movements across the sectors at Lerwick where diversity of traffic is a feature.

“The impact of Brexit discussions on the fishing industry and quota cuts for cod and herring are concerns, but there are upcoming highlights to look forward to in 2020. These include completion of the replacement white fish market and a new heavy duty decommissioning pad, and another record-breaking cruise season, with strong future bookings.

“The arrival of the Ninian Northern platform’s topside for decommissioning and mobilisation and load-out of a Floating Production, Storage and Offshore vessel’s mooring system will both provide work beyond this year.”