The head of industry body Energy North said yesterday Scotland’s energy sector was increasingly spreading north and west from its Aberdeen heartland.
Ian Couper, the trade association’s chief executive, said ports in the Highlands and Western Isles would increasingly benefit from both oil and gas and renewable-energy projects off Scotland’s shores.
Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) signed a deal recently with harbour operators aimed at attracting investment of £100million and securing lucrative fabrication contracts.
A memorandum of understanding between HIE and Port of Ardersier, Kishorn Port, Cromarty Firth Port Authority and Global Energy Nigg means the business agency will help to market the sites and secure planning permission. Mr Couper said: “Nigg being brought back into service is great news, and there must be something that can now be done at Kishorn and these other ports as well.
“Oil and gas projects west of Shetland are starting to take shape, and Orkney and Scrabster will be looking to benefit from that.”
He added that an interconnector cable to the Western Isles was vital to unlocking investment for harbours in the region. There are plans for a 50-mile subsea cable to connect windfarms in the Western Isles to the national grid on the mainland, but the project has been delayed and costs have risen to an estimated £700million.
Mr Couper said: “If they can get the interconnector to the Outer Hebrides it will bring Arnish and Kishorn right into the frame.
“There is no question that the energy industry is now moving west as well as north.”
Energy North itself is boosting its presence in the north-east and is holding several events in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire this year targeting new recruits to its 180-strong membership. Mr Couper added: “We are looking at large operators but also the smaller businesses, because those are the companies we can really help.”