Increasing offshore activity at Lerwick Harbour has boosted traffic in the first half of this year.
Figures released on Friday showed that oil vessel arrivals increased by 25.4 per cent to 163 in the six months to June, compared to the same period in 2018, with the tonnage increasing 73.0 per cent to 868,212 million gross tonnes, due to more supply, diving and anchor-handling vessels using the port. Cargo handled for the sector jumped 156 per cent to 33,371 tonnes.
Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Calum Grains welcomed the news.
He said: “Recovery in support for the oil and gas industry is a welcome trend after the sector’s lengthy downturn, all-the-more so as the outlook is also cautiously positive.”
Total arrivals across all sectors increased 10.7 per cent to 2,487, including a six per cent rise in fishing vessels to 998.
The tonnage of shipping, at 5,502,885 gross tonnes, was higher by 1.5 per cent. Pilotage movements rose 47.1 per cent at 481, reaching 4,520,738 gross tonnes, a 5.8 per cent increase.
In addition to more freight for the offshore sector, the port handled five per cwent more cargo on the roll-on/off ferries to-and-from Aberdeen and Kirkwall to bring the total over the quays to 392,922 tonnes, up 6.1 per cent.
Despite an 8.5 per cent increase in ro-ro ferry passengers to 65,147, the overall footfall decreased 5.2 per cent to 92,125, with cruise passengers down due to a higher proportion of small- to mid-sized vessels in what is expected to be a record season of cruise ship arrivals.
There were 117,787 boxes of whitefish landed, an increase 8.3 per cent, for an average price of £2,016.00 per tonne.
Capt Grains said the port was looking forward to the start of the herring season and arrival of new pelagic vessels in the next quarter.
He added: “Future prospects are encouraging, with more oil supply boats and seismic vessels being seen and increasing interest in exploration activity.
“The recent arrival of the ST-1 platform – our first from the southern North Sea – contributes to decommissioning activity, with the Ninian Northern deck due early 2020.
“The cruise market remains buoyant, with 103 vessels lined up for 2020 already and bookings through to 2023 for Lerwick, recently hailed as one of the top European destinations.”