The gradual recovery in the offshore oil and gas sector’s fortunes has been reflected in the latest traffic statistics from Lerwick Port Authority (LPA), which the organisation said showed an “improving picture” throughout 2019.
At 368 the number of oil industry-related vessels using the port’s facilities rose by 7% on 2018, including a 28% rise in supply and anchor-handling ships and overall tonnage was up by 26%.
Shipments to and from the sector’s operations in the North Sea and Atlantic jumped 49% to 76,171 tonnes compared to the previous year.
The contribution of the increased oil and gas activity helped push overall cargo up 6.4% to 885,759 tonnes.
LPA chief executive, Captain Calum Grains, said: “The upturn in this important activity is good news for Lerwick and Shetland and has been driven by the gradual recovery across the sector, including subsea decommissioning support – one of the port’s specialisms – and more seismic research; another good sign.”
Total vessel arrivals dropped 3% to 5,068, with gross tonnage also down slightly at 12.5 million tonnes, although pilotage movements rose 12.5% to 1,054.
The number of ferry passengers on the Aberdeen and Kirkwall routes increased by 10.2% to 148,937, with the total footfall steady at 225,170.
Despite a shortfall in expected cruise passengers due to vessel cancellations, a record number of liners visited Lerwick during the year.
White fish landed in 2019 totalled 230,081 boxes, an 8% decrease for the nine months to December.
Mr Grains added: “There were the usual movements across the sectors at Lerwick where diversity of traffic is a feature.
“The impact of Brexit discussions on the fishing industry and quota cuts for cod and herring are concerns, but there are upcoming highlights to look forward to in 2020.
“These include completion of the replacement white fish market and a new heavy duty decommissioning pad, and another record-breaking cruise season, with strong future bookings.
“The arrival of the Ninian Northern platform’s topside for decommissioning and mobilisation and load-out of a floating production, storage and offshore vessel’s mooring system will both provide work beyond this year.”