A giant drilling rig is to pass through the Minch this week as it leaves the port of Kishorn after re-fitting work.
The 60,800-ton rig marked the first oil and gas industry contract in over 40 years for the Highlands dry dock that once employed more than 3,000 workers.
Kishorn, in Wester Ross, was used in the 1970s for the construction of the Ninian Central oil production platform.
Weighing more than 600,000 tons, the platform was the world’s largest floating concrete structure.
Last month Kishorn greeted the arrival of the world’s biggest semi-submersible offshore drilling rig, Ocean GreatWhite, for service work.
The huge rig requires deep water for anchoring.
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It arrived at Kishorn, which was recently revamped, after being towed from Singapore via Las Palmas in the Canaries.
Following the servicing work, the rig will be put to use in a drilling contract in the North Sea.
An open day at the yard attracted more than 100 people at the weekend. The rig is due to leave this week.
It is understood Ocean GreatWhite has been selected for Siccar Point Energy’s upcoming Lyon exploration well west of Shetland, a prospect thought to hold around three trillion cubic feet of gas.
Alasdair Ferguson, a director of Kishorn Port Ltd, said: “We hope that the berthing and support to the rig at Kishorn will herald a new era of engagement in the oil and gas industry at Kishorn.”
Simon Russell, director at Kishorn Port, said: “We’ve been working for 10 years on the regeneration of the port, and this is like the sleeping giant awakening.
“It’s an exciting time for the area, and hopefully this work will lead to further contracts, and local employment.”
Previous yard operators Howard Doris succumbed to insolvency in 1988, with the facility lying largely dormant until 1992 when it was used to support construction of the Skye Bridge.
KPL, a joint-venture of Ferguson Transport and quarry firm Leiths, secured permission for the redevelopment in 2013, and has promoted its capacity for oil and gas and renewables projects.
With the backing of the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the firm carried out a £450,000 project last year to restore the dry dock to full working order.
The Ocean GreatWhite contract led to a dozen people being employed at the yard plus 100 in the local supply chain.