Survey works are underway at Kishorn Port ahead of a planned “major upgrade” of the historic Wester Ross facility.
Marine and land investigations, which will inform further development potential at the site on Scotland’s West coast, kicked off last month.
Owner operator Kishorn Port Limited (KPL) has engaged specialist contractors for phase one of the £2.4 million project.
It follows the securing of £500,000 of investment from development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The three firms currently engaged on the project are marine consulting engineers Wallace Stone, jack-up barge contractor Red7Marine, and marine drilling equipment provider Causeway Geotech.
They have all been commissioned for a six-to-eight week drilling programme, using the Haven Seariser 2 barge and two Eijelkamp Fraste rigs.
The HIE funding will contribute towards the design and tender costs, including project management, environmental consultancy, marine engineering studies and ground and seabed investigations.
Alastair Nicolson, HIE area manager for Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, said: “Kishorn is already an extremely valuable asset to this rural area, providing skilled jobs and supporting community resilience. The port has the potential to be transformational as it continues to expand and create more year-round quality jobs. This in turn will help attract and retain a skilled working population and sustain thriving communities.
“That’s why this design project is so important. It will help pave the way for a major upgrade of Kishorn port enabling it to benefit from upcoming opportunities through ScotWind, oil and gas decommissioning and the growth in aquaculture.
“I’m delighted we have been able to provide support and look forward to continue to work with KPL as they develop the plans.”
KPL is a joint venture between Leiths (Scotland) and Ferguson Freight Holdings, both of which have operations at Kishorn.
The facility serves the offshore renewables and oil and gas industries, and includes an 80-metre dry dock, on-site quarry and land for development.
The Noble Intrepid jack-up drilling rig is currently parked up at the site while maintenance and makeover work on the vessel is carried out.
In days gone by Kishorn was a fabrication yard for huge oil platforms, including the Ninian Central, at one time world’s largest man-made movable object, and the Buchan Alpha.
It has ambitions to be part of the next stage of the North Sea too and in 2021 the facility unveiled its offshore wind “masterplan”.
Alasdair Ferguson, KPL director, said: “The outcomes of these works will give us the certainty we need in relation to the ground conditions on land and on the seabed to work up the design of the new pier structures. It will also tell us what we need to know about the load-bearing capacity of further reclamation of the foreshore at the port for lay down, storage, and for the handling of large subsea structures. All of this is about further enhancing Kishorn’s capacity to handle major contracts in offshore renewables, oil and gas decommissioning and aquaculture and future proofing the Port for decades to come.”
Scottish Government Energy Minister Gillian Martin said: “This welcome next step can help accelerate the North West’s transition towards becoming a renewables powerhouse.
“Scotland is an energy-rich nation, with significant renewables resources, a highly-skilled workforce and innovative businesses across a globally renowned supply chain. This initial announcement could create many more good quality jobs, in Wester Ross and across the country, in the energy industries of the future.
“It demonstrates progress towards a transition that ensures we have sufficient, secure and affordable energy to meet our needs, support Scotland’s economic growth and capitalise on future sustainable export opportunities.”