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Marine / Port’s optimism over future offshore wind and decommissioning opportunities

The barge Iron Lady with the Ninian Northern jacket alongside the deepwater quay at Dales Voe. Photo: Lerwick Port Authority

LERWICK Port Authority’s chief executive says the organisation is “very optimistic” there is significant potential for Shetland to support the manufacturing and operation of offshore wind farms – as well as continued oil and gas decommissioning.

It comes as developers behind three proposed offshore wind farms to the east of Shetland set out their supply chain commitments worth billions to the Scottish economy.

There was mention of Shetland potentially being used as an operations and maintenance base, whilst one developer said it has already engaged with Lerwick Port Authority.

Meanwhile a report was released this week estimating that nearly £20 billion will be spent on decommissioning in the North Sea oil and gas industry over the next decade.

Some defunct oil and gas assets, such as the Ninian Northern platform, have already been decommissioned at the port authority-owned Dales Voe facility in Lerwick.

The port’s chief executive Calum Grains said Shetland was in a “strong position” for supporting both offshore wind and future decommissioning.

“As a deep-water port, our long track-record in decommissioning, including the recent Ninian Northern topside and jacket, means we have the experience and infrastructure to support projects,” he told Shetland News.

“This will be enhanced by plans we are progressing for an ultra-deep water quay at Dales Voe which will also service renewables energy.

“Discussions with oil operators and contractors on future decommissioning projects are ongoing.”

Grains said the package Lerwick provides to the offshore oil and gas industry is “adaptable as a ready-made resource” to support offshore wind farms throughout their lifetime, from installation and maintenance to decommissioning.

“With these latest large-scale developments on our doorstep east of Shetland, it is important the developers take fishing industry concerns onboard,” he said.

“Confidential discussions continue with developers at this early stage.”

The three offshore wind sites to the east of Shetland are proposed through Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind scheme.

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The total generating capacity of the three combined could be up to 2.8GW, which is around six times that of the Viking Energy wind farm under construction on the Shetland mainland.

But more are proposed in the waters around the isles, including Cerulean Winds’ large £10bn plans for turbines west of Shetland and in the central North Sea.

However, plans for floating offshore wind farms around Shetland have drawn concern from the local fishing industry.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart recently backed calls for “cable corridors”.

These would require infrastructure cables at sea, such as those from offshore wind turbines, to run along certain designated routes.

Cable routes would provide certainty about where such cables are and reduce the spatial squeeze impacting fishing vessels.

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