Investment in improved access and expanded deep-water facilities at the Port of Lerwick continues to deliver results, with larger vessels handling increased cargo in the first half of the year.

There were 2,512 vessel arrivals in the six months to June, three fewer than in the same period in 2012, with tonnage of shipping up 9% to 6.1 million gross tonnes, including 1.8 million gross tonnes of oil-related shipping, a rise of 26%. The 705 pilotage movements were up 14%, with the 4.5 million gross tonnes of vessels piloted also increased by 14%.

Cargo across the port’s near 4,000 metres of quays rose by 18% to 530,285 tonnes including oil-related shipments higher by 42.5% at 93,063 tonnes.

Support for offshore projects and shipments of equipment for the construction of the Shetland Gas Plant, near Sullom Voe, and its onward transportation by sea and road, were a feature of the period.

Lerwick Port Authority Deputy Chief Executive, Victor Sandison, said: “The port handled virtually the same number of vessels, but significantly more cargo, underlining the value of ongoing investment in expanded facilities, including deep-water quays, which accommodate larger vessels, as reflected again in the tonnage of shipping this year.

“Two additional quays will be completed in the second half of the year, further expanding the infrastructure, and other developments are in the pipeline.”

Passengers using the port increased by 1% to 69,248, due to a 5% rise in ferry traffic and despite a forecast fall in cruise passengers, down 16%, due to factors affecting specific operators.

Fish landings totalled 27,765 tonnes, valued at £26.7 million – up 44% on volume and 40% on value. The 5,538 tonnes of white fish were valued at £8.1 million – up 5.8% on volume and down 6% on value, with the price per tonne decreased by 11% to average £1,474 per tonne.

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