A Home to Oil & Gas
2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the first oil company, Shell UK Exploration, contracting the services of Aberdeen Harbour, and few people would have been able to predict, as they visited the harbour at that time to marvel at the “strange looking vessels with their drilling derricks and helicopter platforms” that the port would be transformed over the next fifty years as a result of these humble beginnings.
Since those early days, Aberdeen Harbour has accommodated the arrival of more than 195,000 vessels associated with the offshore oil and gas sector, and has witnessed many peaks and troughs in the oil price, with this seemingly arbitrary figure playing an increasingly important role in the fortunes of the local economy.
The recent drop in oil price has clearly had an impact on the industry, and yet Aberdeen Harbour continues to experience high levels of activity. Oil and gas tonnages remain relatively steady, and 2014 witnessed over 5,600 oil and gas related vessel arrivals, equating to approximately 18.6 million gross vessel tonnes. These figures are almost a replica of those experienced in 2013 and, to date, 2015 has followed a similar activity profile.
As this sector accounts for less than 50% of the port’s revenue, the impact has perhaps been tempered by activity in other areas of business. Yet the Board also views activity associated with the maturing North Sea fields, such as inspection, repair and maintenance and, in particular, decommissioning, as markets that will continue to grow for many years to come. The greatest challenge to the port, therefore, is to provide not only the additional capacity that this activity will require, but also the deep water berthage that these operations, with their larger vessels, will demand. The current economic climate, therefore, makes the Board’s plans for the development of deep water berthage in Nigg Bay all the more pressing.
Should this development go ahead, it would constitute another chapter in the story of Aberdeen Harbour’s long-established relationship with the energy sector in the North Sea and would ensuring that Aberdeen Harbour remains ‘Scotland’s North Sea Gateway’ for many years to come.