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2017 LPA Records Set

by Tom Morton -

Record numbers of cruise passengers, the biggest decommissioning project to date and the most boxes of whitefish yet landed in the modern era - these were some of 2017’s highlights for Lerwick Port Authority

Despite the downturn in offshore oil exploration and production, which led to a challenging year for the harbour, Chief Executive Sandra Laurenson predicted a slow improvement in prospects for oil related work in the future. The number and tonnage of vessels using the port fell, as did overall passenger numbers and cargo handled compared with 2016.

"A wide range of factors, positive and negative, influenced the different sectors, with activity ending the year in line with expectations,” said Ms Laurenson

Vessel arrivals dropped 2.8% to 4,896, and the 11.6 million gross tonnes of shipping handled at Lerwick was down 6.4%, due mainly to both roll-on/roll-off ferries being dry-docked for scheduled maintenance; fewer oil-related vessels in the current downturn; and a fall in arrivals and departures by cargo ships, with some shipments transferring to roll-on/roll-off services.

Record numbers of cruise passengers, the biggest decommissioning project and the most boxes of whitefish of the modern era

The tonnage includes the 15,000 gross tonne Buchan Alpha floating production unit which arrived for decommissioning at Dales Voe Base, an ongoing project and the largest offshore structure yet to come to Lerwick for dismantling and disposal.

A reduction in shipments for the oil and gas industry accounted for almost all the drop in overall freight handled – lower by 3% at 926,827 tonnes.

Temporary cost-cutting competition on air services between Shetland and the Scottish mainland late last year influenced ferry passenger numbers which decreased 4.6% to 127,624. Cruise ships narrowly set a new passenger record at 50,768. The port served a total of 178,392 passengers, a fall of 3%.

Boxes of white fish landed jumped 7.7% to 228,651, the highest since the 1980s, and with a value up 24% to £21 million. Pelagic volumes and prices were lower for the year.

Ms Laurenson added: “The overall outlook for 2018 is broadly similar to last year. Positives include a continuing strong performance in the white fish sector; record cruise ship activity, a likely recovery in ferry passenger numbers and slowly improving potential for future offshore-related projects.”

A likely recovery in passenger numbers and slowly improving potential or future offshore-related projects
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