2015: Steady Operations

Despite the backdrop of a lower oil price, activity in the harbour remained relatively stable in 2015, with more than 7,400 vessel arrivals, in excess of 4.2 million tonnes of cargo, 27.5 million vessel tonnes and over 158,000 passengers visiting the port during this period.

A cautious view of this apparent resilience, in the face of the economic challenges facing the region, is that the port has benefited from a number of large oil and gas projects that were commissioned prior to the drop in oil price. Looking at the 2015 activity in detail, there are perhaps other factors at play which have also helped to mitigate the effect of the current downturn to some extent.

A major factor, and one that has been underpinning the activity increases in the port for many years now, is that vessels are getting larger – and this is the case across a whole range of market sectors. General commercial cargo vessels, supply vessels and subsea support vessels are all getting larger – and this trend helps to bolster the shipping tonnage activity in the port, and indeed, is one of the factors supporting the need for harbour expansion.

The harbour also enjoys a mixed portfolio of activity. So, despite 53% of the port’s income being derived from UKCS-related activity, 26.5% of its income comes from general cargoes and commercial shipping. Commodities shipped to and from the port are many: road salt, salmon feed, refined oil products and scrap metal are just some of these.

A bumper year in activity for one of these commodities, can help offset some of the impact of a fall in oil and gas activity. A great example of this in the last two years has been grain.

From a figure of 15,600 tonnes of grain shipped in 2013, the harbour shipped an average of around 70,000 tonnes per annum in 2014 and 2015.

Freight to the Northern Isles also increased in 2015 (an increase of 1.2% on 2014), whilst cruise ship activity increased from eight cruise ship visits in 2014, to 11 in 2015. Furthermore, bookings for 2016 indicate that we are to experience a 118% increase in this kind of activity, with 25 cruise visits scheduled.

The port’s international reach is also a significant factor in its success. Aberdeen Harbour traded directly with 39 different countries in 2015, with new routes being established in 2015 to both Libya and Indonesia.

It is vital that the Harbour continues to evolve in order to retain the flexibility to accommodate an even wider range of business streams and opportunities. Diversity