Port of Cromarty Firth has the necessary permits, infrastructure, experience, capacity and supply chain in place to provide a turnkey solution for the decommissioning of Central and Northern North Sea oil and gas assets.

Port of Cromarty Firth is capable of decommissioning the largest offshore production platforms and subsea structures, and is already a proven natural choice for decommissioning projects.

The Cromarty Firth is perfectly located to support central and northern North Sea decommissioning projects. It offers multiple sheltered, deep-water berths with no tidal or weather constraints, meaning 24/7/365 unrestricted access to facilitate quick vessel turnarounds and optimise vessel chartering costs. There is a well-established, experienced onsite supply chain with extensive offshore engineering, logistics and waste management expertise.

Decommissioning Berths

Quay West is a new 372m berth with a minimum water depth of 12m and over 90,000sqm of accompanying laydown area. It has the ability to take structures up to 12,000 tonnes across its quayside with heavy lift pads available to ensure the largest structures and cranes can be accommodated.

Berths 2-4 is the deepest on the East Coast of Scotland. It has a depth of 14m at chart datum, a quayside capable of taking vessels up to 300m and access to a 20,000sqm laydown area.

The sheltered Queens Dock facility has established itself as one of the leading facilities in Europe for the inspection, repair and maintenance of oil and gas drilling rigs, offering great protection for underwater work. The facility offers a quayside that can take vessels up to 140m in length, and access to a 20,000sqm laydown area.

Your Choice of Suppliers.

The uniqueness of the offering for the decommissioning market resides in the Port’s open port philosophy.

This means that P.P.C. and R.S.A. permits covering the Invergordon Service Base are held by the Port, enabling the processing of 50,000 tonnes of structures annually.

Contractors and operators can therefore choose to work with the Port’s established supply chain alliances, ranging from demolition and dismantling contractors to waste management and NORM decontamination specialists or bring their own to the site.

Marine Salvage International

When a ship or floating/offshore asset reaches the end of its economic or functioning life (generally 20 years and older), the unit is sold for recycling.

The assets are sold/purchased based on the weight of the steel: This is known as a per / LDT (Light Displacement Tonnage) transaction with most of the constituent parts being melted down for recycling or re-used as follows:

  • The ship’s steel is cut into processed lengths, which are re-used in steel/re-rolling mills.
  • The main engine, generators, and pumps onboard are resold into the second-hand market.
  • Non-ferrous metals from cables and panels are extracted for their metal content.
  • Lifeboats, furniture, galley items, and various other reusables are re-certified and sold for reuse or gifted to local communities.

In essence, marine asset recycling truly helps to extend a assets “useful” life well beyond its intended design. In today’s marine recycling business, companies such as Marine Salvage International are key players/stakeholders, who purchase a vessel/asset, from the Owners and redeliver the ship/offshore asset to our recycling facilities. Buyers such as Marine Salvage International are not brokers, they are PRINCIPALS/TRADERS, and they can take delivery of vessels/assets on both “delivered” and “as is where is” terms.

Our service gives you access to the competence, skills and experience of an industry-leading purchase, decommissioning and recycling company. Minor or complex marine recycling, decommissioning, scrap processing and asset recovery operations can all be undertaken.

Marine Salvage International services cover the entire process from asset purchase to preparation through to removal, transport, onshore disposal and dry dock recycling.

Marine Salvage International currently operates from its “exclusive” facilities and offices in London, Cromarty Port, Great Yarmouth, Norway, Las Palmas, Belfast and The Kingdom of Bahrain.


Case Study – Decommissioning the Hutton TLP

Structure History

The Hutton Tension Leg Platform (TLP) was constructed in the HiFab yard at Nigg in the 1980s and the topside was constructed in Ardersier. It was used on the Hutton oilfield from 1984 until it was retired in 2001.

The platform was transported abroad for use on another project; after which the topside and substructure were separated for different projects.
On its transit between Murmansk and the Gulf of Mexico in 2009, the TLP got into trouble in high seas and was brought into Port of Cromarty Firth by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) as the nearest port that could provide safe anchorage. The ‘legs’ have been stored safely in the Firth since that time.

Transit to Queen’s Dock

As the structure began its life in the Firth, it’s fitting that it should end its life here. After over 10 years of storage in the Firth, Hutton began her final journey in mid-2020. It was a complex project to tow the structure down the Firth and moor her safely in Queen’s Dock. It would have been significantly more difficult to tow her to another Port and would have carried greater risks.
Preliminary inspections were undertaken at sea and an initial project plan conceptualised. The transit was planned by a professional marine warranty surveyor, in partnership with the owners of the structure and the Port’s marine and pilotage team who have specific knowledge of the waters and seabed of the Firth.

Decommissioning Project (undertaken by Messiah Decommissioning)

Messiah Decommissioning are a specialist contracting organisation who have provided innovative solutions in highly regulated and heavy industrial sectors throughout Europe for over 30 years. They operate within the oil & gas, industrial, manufacturing, chemical and petrochemical sectors, offering a variety of services, including decommissioning, decontamination, dismantling, recycling and asset recovery & disposal. The company takes great pride in their pillars of success, which are driven by the delivery of projects safely, on time and on a budget.

For the Hutton TLP project, Messiah’s first job on arrival into Queen’s Dock was a full inspection of the structure to confirm condition, hazards, working environment etc. A detailed project plan was then created and shared with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) for their approval.

How it will be done?

Decommissioning any structure of Hutton’s size and age is a complex project. A detailed project plan is in place, which adapts with the project as it progresses.
It began with cleaning of the internal columns (legs) before their dismantling. Each column is then cut into sections; one at a time. Each cut section is then lifted off by a heavy lift crane before the next section is cut.

The ballasting of the structure has to be adapted as the weight shifts – as you remove pieces, the weight changes and this alters how the structure sits in the water. Rigs have internal ballast systems to manage this weight change; usually by pumping sea water into different tanks within the structure.

Once the columns have been cut down, the project managers will be left with the pontoon structure. This may be downsized in the Cromarty Firth or towed to another location to be decommissioned. (It is a very heavy structure to lift and may require a dry dock.)

The majority of the Hutton structure is steel and Messiah are predicting a 97% recycling rate of the materials. This is an important part of Scotland’s Circular Economy – the steel will be recycled into other products.

Health, Safety and Environmental

Decommissioning activities can only take place on permitted sites in Scotland. The permits are issued by SEPA and Port of Cromarty Firth holds a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit issued 28th of September 2017. This PPC permit is for the safe treatment and storage of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes (The majority of the Hutton TLP waste is non-hazardous.)

Messiah Decommissioning is the principal contractor for the project and has a Health Safety Environment and Quality (HSEQ) project plan in place. Perses Ltd are the principal designer and the project has a full time Project Manager. The project is being undertaken in Port’s Queen’s Dock facility, which is leased to Semco Maritime.

Daily activity briefings take place prior to operations starting each day to ensure all workers on the project are aware of the activities taking place. Site audits also take place daily. Weekly project performance reviews and monthly environmental and performance audit reviews are also undertaken. Sub-contractors must undertake a health and safety competence assessment by Messiah Decommissioning prior to appointment and their performance is monitored throughout their contract.

Messiah Decommissioning will undertake the project in accordance with national HSE laws and regulations, and in line with the Port’s HSE guidelines. They have a waste management plan in place which details how materials from the structure will be sorted for recycling / re-use and landfill.

As regulators of the permit, SEPA undertake compliance inspections. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) new Specialist Decom Team are also undertaking monthly inspections.
As the permit holder, Port of Cromarty Firth has appointed an independent decommissioning expert (D3 Consulting) to monitor the activities and ensure they are in line with the terms and conditions of the permit issued by SEPA. They visit site twice per month. Weekly site visits are also undertaken by the Port’s own Environmental Advisor.

The Port’s PPC permit allows for operating hours of:
o Monday to Friday from 07:00-21:00,
o Saturday 07:00-21:00, and
o Sundays 08:00-16:00

Main Contacts

Cromarty Firth Port Authority, Port Office, Shore Road, Invergordon, IV18 0HD

+44 (0) 1349 852308


Chief Executive – Bob Buskie
General Manager – Calum Slater
Commercial & Finance – Richard Fea
Business Development – Joanne Allday
Marketing and PR – Stuart MacDonald Butler

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