Like most businesses, the Port has to make a financial surplus (or profit) to survive however, as a Trust Port, every penny made is reinvested in the Port for the benefit of its stakeholders.
The port has been preparing and investing to attract offshore decommissioning opportunities for a number of years. Our strategic location in the North Sea, deep water and experienced supply chain, plus the laydown and quayside space we have available make us a natural choice for these projects.
As part of the process, we needed to secure two environmental permits; a Pollution Prevention Control (PPC) permit and a Radioactive Substances Act permit. Both permits were obtained in winter 2017/18 and the Port is now decommissioning ready. We are in talks with a number of companies about bringing this work to the Highlands.
The permits are held by the Port, so companies looking to decommission their assets can either benefit from a turnkey solution using the Port’s consortium of specialist companies, or they can appoint their own preferred supplier. The Port of Cromarty Firth is the first Port to offer this open port philosophy and allow any reputable client, operator or contractor to use the Port’s permits. We believe that as a trust port, it is important to remain open and encourage opportunities that could benefit a broad range of companies.
Ship-to-ship oil transfers have taken place safely in the Cromarty Firth for over 30 years. They have been undertaken under the Port’s licence at the Nigg Oil Terminal (NOT) since the early 1980s, when the terminal was constructed in support of the Beatrice offshore oilfield development. Since that time, 350 movements of Beatrice oil have occurred from shore-to-ship and over 250 ship-to-ship oil transfers. According to NOT’s records, more than 175 million barrels of oil have been safely transferred from the Beatrice field into tankers and shipped to global markets.
The last of the Beatrice oil was exported from the terminal in early 2015 and, since that time, only a handful of export tankers have visited the Firth. (Down from 42 visits in 2014 and 58 in 2013.) Taking an average over the five years from 2010-2014, port fees of £577,000 per year would have been levied from this activity and would now be available for reinvestment in developing the port. (As a trust, 100% of profits are reinvested.)
At a time of significant instability in the oil and gas sector, the Port had a duty to protect employment and opportunities and to proactively drive reinvestment. The terminal’s future looked uncertain and the Port needed stable revenues to fund a new cruise berth to secure this sector and the multi-millions it generates for the Highland economy. As a result, the Port submitted an application to our regulator, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), in autumn 2015 to obtain an additional licence to carry out ship-to-ship oil transfers at anchor and retain this capability and its associated jobs and revenues within the Firth.
The Port of Cromarty Firth has one of the safest records in the world for oil transfers, which are necessary to move oil around the world and bring it onshore where it is converted into fuel, plastics, detergents etc. The Port is confident its safety record would continue under the proposed additional licence. The need for a new cruise berth is becoming increasingly important and, as such, the port is continuing to answer the questions raised in the original application with a view to resubmitting in due course.
Over the past 25 years the Port of Cromarty Firth has been cultivating the cruise ship sector, to the extent that this now represents a strategic part of the Port’s current business. The Port has established itself as the waterborne tourist gateway to the Highlands. It has unique competitive advantages (scenic port; deep and sheltered waters; an abundance of internationally and nationally important wildlife; the ability to accommodate the larger cruise ships alongside the quay etc.). This positioning resulted in over £15 million in tourist spend within the wider Highland economy in 2017. This will increase to £17 million this year.
Invergordon was again crowned the busiest cruise Port in Scotland in 2017; welcoming over 150,000 passengers (up from 97,993 in 2016). This is higher than any other Scottish Port. And there is a growing opportunity…
The cruise sector is predicting current growth trends to continue and, as a result, competition is intensifying and other Ports are investing in their facilities. To keep pace, and secure long term cruise revenues and associated jobs for the Highland economy, without any risk to existing jobs in Invergordon, the Port of Cromarty Firth finds itself obligated to invest in its infrastructure to be able to host the ever-increasing size of cruise ships (50% increase in capacity since 2001) and provide a safer and better quality passenger experience.
To protect the benefits of cruise tourism to the Highlands and secure the projected additional economic benefit of £124 million the Port requires at least two quays as suitable options for the largest cruise vessels.
Thus, the Port is planning a £23million capital investment to build an additional quayside to protect and grow the Highlands’ market share, for the benefit of the regional economy.
A pre-application consultation was announced in February and a public exhibition took place at the Port Office on Tuesday 27th March 2018 from 9am to 8pm. The consultation documents were also made available on this website and time was allowed for feedback to the 16th April 2018. The consultation period is now closed.
A Frequently Asked Questions sheet has been created containing answers to the most common questions asked at the public exhibition. This will provide additional information to the images below.
A Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been issued for the forthcoming contractor opportunity. Interested companies can find out more at https://www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=APR315505
Cromarty Firth Port Authority, Port Office, Shore Road, Invergordon, IV18 0HD
+44 (0) 1349 852308
Chief Executive – Bob Buskie
General Manager – Calum Slater
Finance – Richard Fea
Marketing and PR – Joanne Allday
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send us a message.