The offshore oil industry has contributed to an increase in cargo at Lerwick Harbour in the six months to end-June which also saw a rise in the number of oil support vessels using the Shetland port.
With the wide range of all cargoes handled up 5% at approximately 400,000 tonnes, it included oilfield equipment and supplies, as well as steel pipe delivered for later installation by the pipelay vessel, Solitaire, on the Forvie Field.
The high level of industry activity saw 119 oil-related vessels calling at Lerwick to mid-year, up 30% on the same period in 2004. Last year also saw an upturn in offshore traffic.
The growing popularity of Lerwick as a port of call for yachts is reflected in a 37% increase to 244 for the six months. The overall number of all vessels was 2,340, compared to 2,363, due to fewer international ferries off-season and a decrease in fishing vessels and salmon carriers.
The level of fish landings was maintained, at 62,703 tonnes, while the value at £26.9 million was up 52%, with the main increase being on the price of mackerel in the first quarter. Whitefish volumes also remained steady, at 2,935 tonnes, with a value of £3.5 million, reflecting a continued price increase of 16%, to an average £1,198 per tonne at Lerwick fishmarket. Industrial landings to the fishmeal plant at Bressay also held firm on volume and price.
Passengers sailing to-and-from Lerwick during January-June rose by 2% to 59,425. The total for roll-on/roll-off ferry services – operated by NorthLink and Smyril Line - increased 6.5% to 55,017. With only 14 of this year’s scheduled cruise ships calling between March and June, and the larger vessels due in the second half of the year, cruise passenger numbers were down compared to the first half of 2004.
The size of cruise ships also impacted on the tonnage of shipping handled – down almost 120,000 gross tonnes (gt) to just over 5.5 million gt.
The second half of the year has seen a boost to traffic, with the arrival of the 77,500 gross tonne (gt) cruise ship, Sea Princess – one of the largest yet to call at Lerwick and with around 2,000 passengers – and the 92,000 gt Solitaire on the same day (18 July) when the port handled a record of almost 228,000 gt of shipping.
Allan Wishart, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority, commented: “The swings and roundabouts in activity again demonstrate the importance both of handling a range of traffic and the ability to accommodate the larger vessels now operating. While the level of oil-related activity remains modest, the increase is nevertheless welcome.”