Increase in oil-related traffic good for harbour’s bottom line

Oil-related activity at Lerwick Harbour is showing a significant increase this year, with arrivals of offshore industry vessels, their tonnage and cargo handled all up by more than half in the first nine months compared with the same period in 2010.

Sustained activity in the third quarter brought the number of oil-related vessels using Lerwick between January and September to 426, up 55 per cent on the comparable figure last year, while the tonnage increased 58 per cent to 1.4 million gross tonnes and the cargo by 55 per cent to 64,875 tonnes.

Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson said: “The harbour’s valuable contribution to the offshore industry’s activities is reflected not only in the increasing traffic, but also in the continuing development of the port’s deep-water infrastructure to service operations and support future decommissioning projects.”

While the overall tonnage of vessels increased by 15 per cent to 8.8 million gross tonnes – once again reflecting larger ships using the harbour – total arrivals were down 1.7 per cent at 4,177, mainly due to fewer fishing vessels.

The use of the port by larger vessels – including the two biggest cruise ships yet this summer – is also indicated by pilotage figures, with 916 movements, up 9.8 per cent, with six million gross tonnes of vessels piloted, a rise of 9.7 per cent.

With the number of cruise passengers virtually unchanged at a near-record 30,747 (down by 0.3 per cent) in another busy season, and ferry passengers increasing by 1.3 per cent to 106,723, the total of 137,470 passengers showed a rise of 1.3 per cent.

Cargo shipped through the port held steady at 622,562 tonnes – up 0.3 per cent.

Total fish landings at 48,946 tonnes were valued at £55.7 million – down 26 per cent on volume and up 4.8 per cent on value.

White fish at 6,757 tonnes had a value of £12.2 million – down 10 per cent on volume and up 2.5 per cent on value for a price per tonne increased by 13.8 per cent to average £1,813 per tonne.

There were 41,480 tonnes of pelagic fish landed, valued at £41.6 million – down 27 per cent on volume and up 5.5 per cent on value. While blue whiting did not feature this year, due to the tiny quota allocated for this species in 2011, it was a good summer herring fishery in August. Mackerel figures to end-September reflect a later start to the autumn mackerel fishery which has seen good landings into October.


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