Increasing offshore activity at Lerwick Harbour has boosted traffic at the Shetland port in the first half of 2019.

“Recovery in support for the oil and gas industry is a welcome trend after the sector’s lengthy downturn, all-the-more so as the outlook is also cautiously positive,” said Captain Calum Grains, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority.

Figures released today (Friday 2 August) show that oil vessel arrivals increased by 25.4% to 163 in the six months to June, compared to the same period in 2018, with the tonnage increasing 73.0% to 868,212 million gross tonnes, due to more supply, diving and anchor-handling vessels using the port. Cargo handled for the sector jumped 156% to 33,371 tonnes.

Total arrivals across all sectors increased 10.7% to 2,487, including a 6% rise in fishing vessels to 998. The tonnage of shipping, at 5,502,885 gross tonnes, was higher by 1.5%. Pilotage movements rose 47.1% at 481, reaching 4,520,738 gross tonnes, a 5.8% increase.

In addition to more freight for the offshore sector, the port handled 5% more cargo on the roll-on/off ferries to-and-from Aberdeen and Kirkwall to bring the total over the quays to 392,922 tonnes, up 6.1%.

Despite an 8.5% increase in ro-ro ferry passengers to 65,147, the overall footfall decreased 5.2% to 92,125, with cruise passengers down due to a higher proportion of small- to mid-sized vessels in what is expected to be a record season of cruise ship arrivals.

There were 117,787 boxes of white fish landed, an increase 8.3%, for an average price of £2,016.00 per tonne. The port is looking forward to the start of the herring season and arrival of new pelagic vessels in the next quarter.

Captain Grains added: “Future prospects are encouraging, with more oil supply boats and seismic vessels being seen and increasing interest in exploration activity. The recent arrival of the ST-1 platform – our first from the southern North Sea – contributes to decommissioning activity, with the Ninian Northern deck due early 2020. The cruise market remains buoyant, with 103 vessels lined up for 2020 already and bookings through to 2023 for Lerwick, recently hailed as one of the top European destinations.”

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