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Marine / Rosebank approval could ‘open opportunities’ for port authority

Photo: Alexander Simpson/LPA

THE APPROVAL of the Rosebank oil development could offer opportunities for Lerwick Port Authority, according to its chief executive Captain Calum Grains.

It comes as the port, which often hosts offshore and oil-related vessels, reported steady growth in overall traffic in the third quarter of 2023.

Meanwhile looking into next year there currently 156 cruise calls booked, which is up 17 per cent on 2023.

The Rosebank oil development to the west of Shetland was given approval by regulators earlier this year, amid protests from environmental campaigners.

Rosebank is the largest undeveloped oil field in the region and it has the potential to produce a significant amount of oil. Total recoverable resources are estimated at around 300 million barrels.

Meanwhile new figures from the port authority showed that vessel arrivals for the nine months to the end of September were up seven per cent at 3,994 compared to the same period in 2022, with the tonnage rising 22 per cent to 12,398,237 gross tonnes.

The biggest jump was a 37 per cent increase in cruise vessels calling, while fishing and oil-related shipping remained steady.

Cargo for the nine months was down six per cent at 648,906 tonnes, with a 14 per cent drop in oil-related freight and five per cent in roll-on/roll-off ferry shipments, when compared to the previous year.

The LPA said this was not surprising given that 2022 saw exceptional tonnage due to the arrival of the Ninian Northern oilfield jacket for decommissioning and deliveries required for the construction of the Viking Energy wind farm.

The port authority recently submitted a planning application to increase the size of its Dales Voe site, which is used for decommissioning.

Dales Voe quayside expansion mooted as demand expected to grow

It said it was “crucial” to expand its facilities ahead of expected growth in decommissioning.

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Allied to this is the expected construction of offshore wind farms in the waters around Shetland, with LPA in line to support the installation, operation and maintenance of developments.

Meanwhile passenger numbers at the port rose 46 per cent to 256,455 between January and September this year, including footfall on the ferry services to Aberdeen and Kirkwall, which was up 13 per cent to 132,552.

The cruise season, which ended in the third quarter, saw 123,902 visitors arrive at Lerwick, compared to 58,450 the previous year.

The sector broke previous port records for tonnages, number of ship arrivals and passenger figures.

Lerwick’s contribution to marine tourism in Shetland included 594 yachts during the season, which was one per cent up on the same period in 2022.

There were 171,657 boxes of whitefish landed at Lerwick, an increase of seven per cent compared to the same nine-month period last year. Average price per tonne and landing volumes for the year remained steady.

Grains said: “Activity in Q3 continued encouraging trends seen earlier in the year and underpins our positive outlook going forward.

“A reclamation project to accommodate future pelagic sector development is nearing completion. The prospects for increased whitefish landings are good.

“There are strong bookings for cruise traffic, with currently 156 due to call, up 17 per cent on 2023.

“The go-ahead for the Rosebank Field hopefully opens opportunities for the port.

“We look forward to building our involvement in renewable energy, with floating offshore wind developments, including the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding with wind farm developer, ESB, to support its project in Shetland waters.”

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