Aberdeen harbour showed yesterday it was bouncing back strongly from the impact of the recession when it reported a record August.
The trust port dealt with 2.34million tonnes of shipping last month; the best monthly tally since 2.27million tonnes in September 2008. The upturn in the harbour’s fortunes is also reflected in the July 2010 total of 2.25million tonnes, the third best to date.
Aberdeen Harbour Board chief executive Colin Parker said: “Activity levels are really stepping up.
“Confidence is coming back into the oil and gas industry and companies are starting to drill more. Things are definitely getting busier for us.”
The harbour deals with dozens of vessels daily, from a wide variety of industry areas including oil and gas equipment, farming, fuel and scrap metal.
Mr Parker was speaking to the Press and Journal as he confirmed that the first phase of its £30million Torry Quay development was on track for completion by the end of next year.
The initial stage of the largest civil-engineering project to be undertaken at the harbour in recent years includes the demolition of the upstream quays, replacing them with 984 feet of realigned, deepwater berthing.
The development will also provide stronger quays for heavy lifts and create more room in the River Dee for vessels to navigate.
The overall project, part of the harbour board’s £65million development strategy, will result in more than 1,640ft of new deepwater berths and more than 17 acres of backup land on the south side of the river.
The board says the development of the harbour is fundamental to the future economic prosperity of the region. The new facility’s potential uses could include an additional support base for oil and gas customers and the handling of equipment for offshore renewable-energy installations.
Mr Parker said: “The improvements will provide modern facilities and enhanced configuration to better suit larger vessels using the port.
“Not only will the new facility offer improved services for existing users, it also opens it up for potential diversification opportunities, particularly renewables.
“Investment in this area also means that we can attract new customers and extend our reach to a growing number of international destinations bringing increased opportunities to the region.”
With more than £200million invested by the board in the past 30 years, the port is said to be one of the most modern in Europe.
Every year Aberdeen harbour handles more than 24million tonnes of shipping and cargo exceeding 5million tonnes, worth £1.5billion.
Activity at the port generates more than £420million to the region’s economy each year and helps to sustain about 11,000 full-time equivalent jobs. The harbour board employs about 90 people itself, with the bulk of the employment coming from areas such as haulage, warehousing and ferries.