Port of Cromarty Firth boosted by renewables and cruise revenues



Invergordon-based Port of Cromarty Firth reported a surplus of £2m on a turnover of £10.6m in its latest annual figures.

The 2019 financial year figures – down from £11.4m previously – reported to the Trust Port’s agm last night, benefited from rapidly growing revenues from renewables.

The Port supported the 588MW Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, installation of which was completed last year, as well as the construction of the 950MW Moray East Offshore Windfarm.

Further offshore wind work for the port is also on the horizon, with Crown Estate Scotland launching the next leasing round for Scottish offshore wind developments, with up to 10GW of capacity up for grabs.

The Port said it is seeking to be well positioned to capitalise on these opportunities, which are predicted to be worth as much as £26bn over the next 50 years.

Oil and gas activity continued throughout the Firth last year, with major oil rig inspection, repair and maintenance (IRM) projects helping to secure and safeguard jobs locally. The industry continues to be an important employer within the Highland region.

Port of Cromarty Firth enjoyed its best ever cruise season since the first luxury vessels sailed into the Cromarty Firth more than 40 years ago.

It welcomed 104 ships and more than 167,000 passengers in 2019, with some of the world’s largest cruise ships taking advantage of the Firth’s deep water and local attractions the surrounding Highlands has to offer.

Cruise ship activity has boosted the Highland economy by an estimated £18m, with many businesses in the region reaping the benefits from cruise passenger visits.

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Port chief executive Bob Buskie said: “I am delighted that our business performed well throughout 2019 and once again surpassed our forecasted targets.

“Our turnover and surplus was excellent, allowing us to look at further reinvestment and development.

“The cruise sector has been a tremendous success story for the region, and the record season represented 26% of the Port’s income in 2019.

“With the installation of the Beatrice offshore windfarm complete, construction of the £31m new berth and laydown area started at the beginning of the year.

“This is in preparation to host the turbine components for EDP Renewable’s (EDPR) 950MW Moray East offshore windfarm, which is a substantial project for the entire Cromarty Firth and, when complete, will be one of the largest constructed offshore wind farms in the world.

“The completion of the latest quayside will bring the total investment in the Port’s facilities to over £55m in recent years, targeted towards securing further Scottish offshore wind projects and creating a pipeline of opportunities and jobs for local people well into the future.

“Whilst supported by funding from both HIE and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the majority of this investment has been financed from the Port’s own funds through reinvestment of our operating surplus.”

However Buskie recognised that the outlook for 2020 was markedly different due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Highlands economy.

He said: “2020 has been an extremely challenging year for the Port and the Highland economy as a whole.

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“The cruise and oil & gas industries, which are core to the Port’s business, have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The construction of the Phase Four development was delayed due to the national lockdown restrictions, however this is now nearing completion.”

He said that as a transport industry business supporting utilities, Port staff had been designated as key workers and had remained open during lockdown.

He praised Port staff for the way they had adapted to the challenges and said: “This has allowed key businesses based on the Port’s facilities to continue operating and safeguarded local jobs.”



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