Tanker charges at Sullom Voe terminal will rise by 83 per cent next year, giving rise to the hope that some of the losses incurred this year will be redressed.
This year the council’s ports and harbours took in £3 million less than expected – £5.5 million was forecast, but only just over £2 million is now expected to go into the harbour account at the end of the financial year.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s harbour board, executive finance manager Jonathan Belford said: “We were not generating as much as we hoped from Sullom Voe because of the reduced number of tankers.” In addition, the low oil price and extended shutdown of the Clair field platform had contributed to this.
He added that projected income from the Shetland Gas Plant would be lower than expected. Instead of operating throughout 2015/16, it was now only expected to start production next month. Given the low oil and gas prices, and as the gas plant would not initially be operating at full capacity, it is only expected to yield £250,000 in the last quarter of 2015/16 and £693,000 in 2016/17.
However, Mr Belford said he was sure the loss this year would be recovered in 2016/17, and it would be a better year for the harbour account, with a net surplus of £7.5 million.
Head of infrastructure Maggie Sandison said that a recent meeting with BP had shown that they understood the need for cost recovery, and vice-chairman Robert Henderson said there was “no problem” with BP, who recognised the council could not support the terminal with state aid.
Harbour board chairwoman Andrea Manson said that she did not think the 83 per cent price increase for tankers would put operators off. She said: “I certainly hope not. They [charges] were not all that expensive to start with.”
Some additional income will be generated by all other harbour charges for all other council pier users being increased by three per cent.