The Scottish Government is being pushed to offer “direct financial support” to the troubled Aberdeen Harbour expansion project.
The city’s top civil servant is to send a letter to Holyrood asking for help, given the “strategic importance of the development”.
The project is viewed as essential to the planned energy transition zone (ETZ), a business park which would help to move the north-east economy away from its reliance on oil and gas.
As councillors agreed to write to the Scottish Government, it emerged a contractor has been found to complete part of the £350 million expansion – after the original contractor pulled out with around a third of the work left.
The harbour board has awarded a £1.6 million contract to complete the north breakwater of the new south harbour.
Engineering firm Ashleigh Contracts, which had already been involved in the project before Dragados UK ceased work, will finish the wall.
The Spanish-owned former main contractor ended its involvement in the Nigg Bay project in the middle of last month.
Bosses blamed delays in construction due to coronavirus, among “other factors”, for the early exit.
Ashleigh Contracts will take up work this month, in line with the current guidelines from the Scottish Government for construction during the pandemic.
Announcing the deal, Aberdeen Harbour Board chief executive Michelle Handforth said: “Ashleigh’s have worked on the project previously and their continuing involvement brings significant expertise and efficiencies to our construction programme
“We are thrilled to have them carry out this additional piece of work.”
Ashleigh Contracts director, Philip Conacher, added: “This is one of the most prestigious and challenging marine civil engineering projects currently underway in the UK and we are delighted to be a part of it, along with our in-house fleet of specialist equipment and our experienced and skilled personnel.
“We look forward to working with the harbour board and Doig And Smith to bring the north breakwater to a successful completion.”
The stop-gap deal will address the need to complete the unfinished north breakwater but will not cover the construction of the south breakwater.
It is not clear how much of the 30% of the work left to do this new deal will address.
The harbour board has cancelled a £15 million contract for dredging, disposal, caisson bedding and revetment work at the south harbour, originally issued in May.
A spokesman said “new provisons” would be made in light of the Ashleigh Contracts deal, and a new contract could be expected to be issued in the coming weeks.
Engineering director Keith Young said: “The fluid nature of the current marine construction market has led to a reassessment of our approach to these works.”
Last month First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a £62 million energy transition fund, which will pay for a number of projects including the ETZ.
Her government said the announcement should “give confidence” to those working on the adjacent harbour expansion.
Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the Scottish Government “absolutely stood by” the harbour project.
Ms Handforth had written to ministers warning of “significant challenges” to the project because of coronavirus-related delays and the loss of ferry, cruise and oil and gas traffic in the current economic climate.