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 diversifying its offering over the past few years, to appeal to a wider range of business sectors and ensure we can create jobs and economic opportunities for the Highland region into the future. This has included expanding from our traditional support for the North Sea oil and gas sector into renewable energy and cruise tourism.
In December 2018 we were able to announce the successful award of a £10m contract from Moray East Offshore Windfarm to use the Port to assemble their turbines. This triggered a £30m expansion project that the Port has been planning and consulting on since 2015. The renewable energy sector presents a number of opportunities for facilities throughout the Firth and we are working hard to secure additional contracts and the jobs they will bring to the area.
For the past 25 years 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 means that Invergordon receives more cruise passengers than any other port in Scotland, generating over £17 million in tourist spend and hundreds of jobs within the wider Highland economy in 2018. This will increase to £18 million this year.
To ensure local businesses and communities can take advantage of the opportunities presented from both of these markets and to continue to attract the oil rigs and subsea vessels that have traditionally visited Port of Cromarty Firth, the Port needs to expand. Consultation on the plans began in 2015 and permissions were sought in 2018 for a new 9-acre laydown area and quayside.
A pre-application consultation was announced in February 2018 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. This consultation fed into the designs for the new development and is now closed.
Applications for the Marine Licences necessary for the Phase 4 Development to go ahead were lodged with statutory consultees on the 17th May 2018. This opened a further period of public consultation, as outlined in the Public Notice (which was published online and in the Edinburgh Gazette and local newspapers). The documents below formed the basis of the submissions and are available here for stakeholders to review. The formal consultation is now closed, but you are welcome to submit any further comments or questions directly to the Port.
Throughout the process the Port was working with potential funders and with our bank to secure the financing necessary to undertake this project. Public funding has been secured from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the European Regional Development Fund.
A Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ or European Single Procurement Document – ESPD) was issued for the contractor opportunity to build the new quayside. Seven companies were invited to tender and Roadbridge UK Ltd were the successful contractor.
Construction of the quayside began in January 2019 and is scheduled to be completed in March 2020 in readiness to receive the Moray East Offhsore Windfarm later that year. We will post regular progress updates on this website. If you have questions, please contact us.
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. Higher priority projects mean that the Port is not pursuing the resubmission of the application for this additional licence.
It is an activity we are keen to see back in the Port however, as 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.
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