Sullom Voe terminal’s two troublesome tugs Solan and Bonxie could be sold early next year to Italian buyers.
Speaking at a meeting of the harbour board, infrastructure chief Maggie Sandison said that an Italian towage company had inspected the tugs while they had a routine drydocking recently and was interested in buying them both.
Mrs Sandison said negotiations were ongoing but were “moving forward positively”, and the documentation required and a date of possible completion of the purchase were being looked at.
However, Mrs Sandison could not be drawn on the selling price of the tugs, which cost £7 million each in 2011.
The tugs, built by a Spanish shipyard, had a chequered history. Their steering problems led to them being taken out of service for more than a year, and although the problems were eventually fixed they have only been used intermittently since then.
They were put up for sale in 2014.