Questions raised over moves to make Dales Voe decommissioning hub

Dales Voe was at the centre of a decommissioning row after the decision to house an ultra deepwater base there was described by an industry figure as a waste of taxpayer’s money.

Chief executive of Tayside-based Dundeecom, Calum Falconer, insisted the decision to develop the base at the Lerwick port could cost the taxpayer £100 million.
That figure is disputed by the Scottish government and Lerwick Port Authority.

Mr Falconer says the move has distorted the “fair playing field” enjoyed by ports and harbours across the country – and given Dales Voe a competitive advantage over rival ports because of “unfair advocacy”.

“There are several ports and we’re all in fair competition. We’re all trying our best to win. Then suddenly the government comes along and throws probably £100 million into Shetland. So that distortion is there. That’s the uneven playing field.

“For me, the question was wrong; the advocacy by government of a single port was anti-competitive; and, thirdly, the economics don’t stack up.”

But the chief executive of Lerwick Port Authority, Sandra Laurenson, has defended Dales Voe and questioned the £100 million figure highlighted by Mr Falconer.

“I think it’s well recognised by decommissioning contractors that Dales Voe, with its natural water depth, is by far the most efficient location for this type of structure to be built.

“My understanding is that Dundee doesn’t have the natural water depth on the approaches that’s going to be able to meet the requirements of heavy lifting crafts to come and drop a load on the quayside.”

She added: “A hundred million pounds is not what it would cost the big infrastructure at Dales Voe. That might be the cost of what it would be to do it at Dundee, but it would be a third of that at Dales Voe.”

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The creation of an ultra-deep water port in Shetland presents an opportunity for Dundee as it could serve to benefit the Scotland-wide decommissioning network, bringing more decommissioning work to ports across the country, including Dundee which itself has itself received considerable support from our Decommissioning Challenge Fund (DCF) to enhance its capabilities.”

• For full story, see this week’s Shetland Times.


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