Construction work on the huge Viking wind farm in Shetland boosted activity levels at Lerwick Port during the first six months of 2023.
Bosses today reported a big upturn in activity levels.
Most of the performace indicators were ahead of last year, in some cases markedly so.
For example, there was a 24% jump in the number of ferry and cruise ship passengers using the port, to 108,732. Figures for 2021 reflected business still recovering from the impact of the Covid pandemic.
‘Encouraging’ first half figures
Lerwick Port Authority (LPA) said operations across the board returned to, or in some sectors, exceeded pre-Covid levels in the first half of 2023.
LPA chief executive Calum Grains said: “The encouraging first half figures continued the recovery to pre-covid levels, reflecting positive contributions made by recent energy sector project activity.”
Growth in Shetland’s cruise industry has delivered a record season this year, as well as “strong” visitor numbers supporting the islands’ marine tourism sector, Mr Grains said.
He added: “Significant efforts were focused on port preparations for the return of the Tall Ships Races in July.
“The period also saw positive engagements with developers on the potential for future marine support for wind farm projects.”
There were 2,432 vessel arrivals during the six months to June – an 11% increase overall, compared with the same period last year. A breakdown of the headline figure shows there were increases of 15% for fishing vessels and 6% in oil-related shipping.
Overall tonnage of nearly six million gross tons, was up 0.6% on the H1 2022 total.
The positive impact on 2023 numbers from shipments linked to Viking, which will boast 103 wind turbines, each more than 500ft tall, followed a one-off boost from the delivery of the Ninian Northern jacket for an oil and gas decommissioning job last year.
Fish landings in Lerwick ‘steady’
But there were reductions in cargo in the latest period, down 3% at around 425,000 tonnes overall and lower by 7% for roll-on/roll-off freight. The treansportation of sand and aggregates to the Viking project in the central mainland of Shetland boosted cargo numbers last year.
There were 123,180 boxes of white-fish landed at Lerwick in the first half of 2023, a 1% increase on a year ago. LPA said fish landings “remain steady”, with market prices “holding”.