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Scottish Government £5million fund to target ports topside dismantling work

A £5million decommissioning fund unveiled by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Aberdeen yesterday will be targeted at ports looking to cash in on dismantling the topsides of massive North Sea oil rigs.

Ms Sturgeon said the cash would be open to “ports and companies” with “proposals on how they see infrastructure development or innovation around salvage or transport”.

She added that the Decommissioning Challenge Fund (DCF) – the details of which will be confirmed “in due course” – would not be aimed at project management or highly lucrative plug & abandonment projects.

Speaking at a visit to crane hire firm Sparrows, Ms Sturgeon said: “This is about making sure Scottish companies benefit fully from the economic opportunities of decommissioning.

“Scottish companies and companies across the UK are already hugely successful in winning decommissioning work if you look at project management, the plugging and abandonment of wells. But this about trying to look and make sure we’ve got the infrastructure, the skills and the capacity to benefit more from the aspects of decommissioning like topside removal and dismantling infrastructure onshore.

“That will involve infrastructure at our ports and harbours, it will involve making sure that companies are looking at the most innovative way of doing things.”

The moves comes after the government’s economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise, published a decommissioning action plan setting out how it will help firms take advantage of the estimated £17.6billion decommissioning spend over the next nine years.

And while the report said that onshore recycling and disposal of the sort that will be supported by the new fund would only be worth 1% of spend, SE said it was the “most visible and remains an important element of the decommissioning lifecycle and an opportunity for Scottish ports and onshore yards”.

Ms Sturgeon added: “This is a £17billion economic opportunity over the next 10 years. So, if we get it right, and if Scottish companies benefit from that, then will have a positive impact on skills, jobs and general economic activity across the north-east.

“All of this we are focusing on at the same time there’s an important point to stress that the North Sea still has a bright future in terms of production.”

A spokeswoman for trade body Oil & Gas UK said: “The First Minister’s announcement today of a new £5million fund to support Scottish companies looking to take advantage of decommissioning sector opportunities is encouraging news for the many supply chain companies still struggling in the downturn. Oil & Gas UK looks forwards to engaging with the Scottish Government on how this fund will work once it becomes available in March.”