Lerwick Harbour attracted more offshore industry traffic than expected last year thanks to the buoyant oil and gas sector.
Figures from Lerwick Port Authority (LPA) today show the number of offshore industry vessels using Lerwick rose nine per cent to 623 in 2012 compared with the previous year. The tonnage of shipping, at three million gross tonnes, was up 52 per cent.
At the same time oil-related cargo jumped 40 per cent to 138,750 tonnes.
LPA’s chief executive, Sandra Laurenson, said: “The continuing increase in offshore industry traffic reinforces our investment strategy, including the deep-water quay completed early almost a year ago to meet demand and the commitment to build an extension this year.
“We are projecting more growth in 2013, with support for ongoing decommissioning work and more field development projects, in particular.”
The tonnage of all vessels increased by 11 per cent to 12.5 million gross tonnes. However it took fewer vessels to reach that figure. The overall total of arrivals dropped 4.7 per cent to 5,165. That was due mainly to inter-island ferries coming out of service for biennial refits and fewer fishing boats arriving.
Sail training ship numbers dipped, as expected, following the Lerwick-leg of the Tall Ships races in 2011. Poor weather kept visiting yacht numbers down as well.
There were 15 per cent more pilotage movements during the year at 1,396, reflecting the trend of larger vessels calling at Lerwick.
As Shetland’s main commercial port Lerwick handled 997,474 tonnes of cargo, up 13.3 per cent.
There was a minor increase of 0.8 per cent in passengers to 161,821. While cruise passengers were up by 22 per cent to 37,572, ferry passengers were down by 4 per cent to 124,249.
The largest monthly decrease was in March due to the ferry refits. There was modest growth in ferry passenger numbers in the final quarter of the year.
Fish landings totalled 61,314 tonnes, valued at £50.1 million – down 6.7 per cent on volume and 38 per cent on value. White fish, at 9,498 tonnes, was valued at £15.2 million – up 4.3 per cent on volume, down 9.6 per cent on value, with the price per tonne down 13 per cent to an average of £1,609 per tonne.
Pelagic fish was down 8 per cent on tonnage and 45 per cent on value, with the decrease due to less mackerel landed and a poorer average price, particularly for mackerel.
Miss Laurenson added: “There was a strong performance across various sectors in 2012 and the good signs for 2013 aren’t limited to the offshore industry.
“Last year’s record cruise season shows what can be achieved by all-round efforts and, with 45 vessels currently booked, we’re looking forward to another busy period.
“Recent announcements on annual quotas for white fish are reasonably positive for the industry which deserves all the encouragement it can get. Our support for the sector includes currently building a new quay which will be the location for a proposed replacement whitefish market.”