TWO major Invergordon projects will mean new jobs and a multimillion-pound injection for the Highland economy and will help the port react to future demand, an MSP believes.
The Port of Cromarty Firth this week confirmed plans for the creation of an additional £23 million berth similar in scale to that built in 2015.
At the same time, an oil and gas operation guaranteed the port’s first decommissioning project. That contract will provide at least three years’ work.
The number of new jobs is unclear at this stage but the port estimates that its new berth will generate an additional £124 million for the local economy over the next decade.
The news has been welcomed by Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain. He said: "I hosted a recent reception at the Scottish Parliament for port authorities on decommissioning as I see it as a very important industry that we in the Highlands could benefit from and I’m delighted at their first contract and at the jobs for the local economy.
"The latest investment in the new pier will also allow the port to respond to increasing trade and tourist traffic as the Admiralty pier is showing its age.
"I welcome both developments and I urge the port authority to take the local residents with them on these developments."
The port unveiled its plans for a new berth development at its service base and pre-planning application consultation event at the port office, scheduled for 9am to 8pm on March 27.
Port chiefs said it would provide an opportunity for stakeholders to consider and comment on the proposals. Full details will be posted on the port’s website from March 24 at email@example.com
It is inviting feedback by April 16.
The multimillion-pound decommissioning contract will mean imminent engineering work for the port.
North Sea oil and gas operator and decommissioning specialist Fairfield Energy has awarded Bibby Offshore, a leading subsea services provider to the oil and gas industry, a contract for the subsea infrastructure decommissioning of the Greater Dunlin area which comprises the Dunlin field, Osprey and the Merlin subsea satellite fields.
Bibby Offshore has been awarded the contract with a consortium of companies including the Port of Cromarty Firth.
The scope of the contract includes subsea infrastructure associated with the Osprey and Merlin subsea fields and other infrastructure relating to the Dunlin Alpha platform.
Materials transported onshore to Invergordon will be broken down into "transferable loads" before being transported to the appropriate disposal and recycling locations.
The port’s chief executive Bob Buskie said: "We’re delighted. We’ve been preparing and investing to attract such opportunities over a number of years.
"Today’s news is a tremendous boost for local companies and workers.
"We’ve worked for many months alongside our alliance partners who are leading the onshore decommissioning to successfully secure this project and we’re grateful for their efforts.
"We also thank Fairfield Energy and Bibby Offshore for recognising our capabilities and the world-class supply chain and skilled workforce based in Invergordon."
Since its creation in 1973, the Port of Cromarty Firth (PoCF) has embarked on a continued programme of reinvestment of surplus funds to enhance the port infrastructure.
In its 40-year history it has handled nearly 700 rig visits. The port’s operations are believed to generate up to generate £275 million a year for the local economy.