Major milestones ahead for port in 2020.

The gradual recovery in the offshore oil and gas sector’s fortunes is reflected in the latest traffic statistics from Lerwick Port Authority, with an improving picture throughout 2019.

The number of oil industry-related vessels using the port’s extensive facilities was up 7% on 2018 at 368, which includes a 28% rise in supply and anchor handling ships, and the overall tonnage was up 26%.

Shipments to-and-from the sector’s operations in the North Sea and Atlantic jumped 49% to 76,171 tonnes compared to the previous year. The sector’s contribution helped push overall cargo up 6.4% 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.”

Total vessel arrivals dropped 3% to 5,068, with gross tonnage also down slightly at 12.5 million, however pilotage movements rose 12.5% to 1,054.

The number of ferry passengers on the Aberdeen and Kirkwall routes increased by 10.2% to 148,937, with the total footfall steady at 225,170. Despite a shortfall in expected cruise passengers due to vessel cancellations, a record number of cruise ships visited.

White fish landed during the year totalled 230,081 boxes, an 8% decrease for the twelve months to December.

Captain Grains added: “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.”

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