Another successful year for Peterhead Port Authority

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2012 began on a rather sombre note with the passing of former Peterhead Harbour Trustee chairman, George Forman and company secretary Joy Patience, both of whom had given many years of loyal and stellar service to the port.

We take this opportunity to highlight and recognise their dedication.

Several major maintenance projects have been undertaken this year with the most significant being the anti-corrosion works at the Princess Royal Jetty.

All of the jetty piles and rear supporting wall were shot-blast, primed and painted to arrest and protect from corrosion that had become problematical over the years.

Several properties owned by the authority were refurbished and in some cases ‘re-roofed’ to provide them with modern insulation values and lighting while protecting the ‘conservation’ listing of their locations.

A new water treatment system has been developed for use at the ship repair facilities which will reduce the cost of operations primarily requiring painting.

The shiplift experienced a collapse of the rear wall during high winds which, fortunately, did not result in any injury to anyone.

The cause of the collapse has been established as poor design and construction. It is being replaced by another method and the remaining wall strengthened.

A new ventilation system is being installed at the shiplift which will greatly improve working conditions within the facility and allow new painting systems to be undertaken.

On a very positive note, the port achieved OHSAS 18001 Health & Safety accreditation for the first time. This recognition offers a nationally recognised high standard of protection to our employees, stakeholders and customers ensuring that the estate in which we operate and work is as safe as can be expected.

Following on from this recognition, the port once again achieved BRC storage accreditation for the fishmarket and maintained its ESPO EcoPorts Environmental status. These levels of recognition are important for many reasons among which ensure our safety and the level of protection afforded people and products while either in our custody or operating on our estate.

The port is in the process of developing a master plan to help guide and chart future business opportunities. This plan is presently being optimised but two distinct areas are awaitingoutside action before it can be fully progressed, viz. wind turbines and Carbon Capture Storage (CCS).

With CCS, the tanker jetty will feature largely and the authority is working closely with Scottish Enterprise teasing out the prospects this technology may bring to the port. If the jetty is to be used in the CCS chain for bulk tankers, it could require a spend of circa £10 million. However, if it is to be used mainly for a layby berth then this will be considerably reduced.

With reference to our wind turbine aspirations, these still involve the siting of two, 2.3 MW turbines at the North shore side of the port. Noise and wind studies have taken more than a year to complete and this information is now with the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) of Aberdeenshire Council.

We are hopeful a planning application can be made early in 2013 to the Buchan Area Committee for consideration. Apart from the huge financial upside this project would bring to the port and local projects, protecting jobs and guarantee funds for port maintenance, the port authority would comply with all of its ‘green goals’ while sweeping up the carbon footprint of our business and that of our harbour based stakeholders.

The accolade of a carbon negative port would do much to enhance the goals of Energetica and indeed the Peterhead Energy Hub both of whom promote a renewable and carbon reduction ethos.

I would like to make mention of the renaming and dedication of the Albert Quay to the Sir Albert Quay in direct recognition and appreciation of the outstanding efforts our local MP Sir Albert McQuarrie made in securing permission for the South Bay Development, in the House of Commons.

It took 20 years to the day to rectify this matter but many of those present at the original opening (and of course Sir Albert and Lady McQuarrie) enjoyed a fine day in the Peterhead sunshine during the rededication.

With regard to the oil and gas, renewable and commercial sectors, Peterhead Port has enjoyed a very successful year with record commercial vessel activity in October. For the first time the port recorded over 1 million gross tonnes of shipping in a month.

This represented 274 vessel arrivals (up from 169 in October 2011), mainly associated with servicing the offshore oil and gas sector. The opening of Smith Quay has been the catalyst for attracting many larger subsea projects to Peterhead that could not previously have been handled.

Gross tonnage of shipping over the first ten months of the year is 22% higher than in the same period in 2011, with the largest increase being in the subsea oil sector, where the number of vessel calls has risen by over 60%. The port has already passed last year’s total for shipping tonnage and number of vessel arrivals. The increasing size of vessel has also impacted on the pilotage service where four additional jobs have been created to help cope with the increased workload.

We are anticipating an uplift in the oil and gas sector of some 30% next year, with 21014/15 looking for similar gains. Unfortunately 2012 has been a relatively poor year for ‘grain’ cargoes with several crops experiencing poor harvests. This has resulted in a drop of circa 25% in tonnage through the port to 61,000 tonnes.

Concluding with the fishing statistics, 2012 has been a ‘mixed bag’ of results across the different sectors. Through to the end of November there has been a 13% increase in the tonnage of white fish landed at the port but the value is down slightly:a 17% decrease in prawn landings; a 21% decrease in mackerel landings; a 110% increase in herring ‘and others’ (blue whiting) landings; an 18% increase overall in product landed.

However, given the large swing in price for mackerel and the drop in tonnage, the value of all fish at Peterhead so far is down 9% at £143,364,039.

Since the two former port authorities merged in 2006, they have set consecutive records above £100 million in value for fish landed. This year will not see that particular run continued but these figures still represent the largest for pelagic and demersal in the UK, if not Europe.

Of course, behind these figures is the real story of hardship and frustration to survive in an ever tightening circle of quota cuts, effort limitation, fuel costs etc. The downturn, for example, in demand for prawns in Spain and other European countries due to the recession has hit this sector very hard. The problems with Iceland and Faroe regarding mackerel represent a big toll in this sector. Also, lack of capacity in processing in the white

fish sector results in prices ‘going South’ when product is plentiful.

A full set of results and figures will be available in the New Year. We wish to take this opportunity to thank all of those who work or who have contributed to the successful year Peterhead Port Authority has enjoyed once again.