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Port improvements pay dividends in traffic volume

Major improvements at Shetland's main port have paid dividends with increased traffic in all areas apart from cruise ship activity.

SUCCESS: Lerwick in the Shetland Islands has seen an increase in the number of vessels entering the port. Picture: Caters News Agency.
SUCCESS: Lerwick in the Shetland Islands has seen an increase in the number of vessels entering the port. Picture: Caters News Agency.

The oil and gas industry in particular took full advantage of Lerwick Harbour's expanded deep-water infrastructure, which helped attract a growing number of vessels in 2013.

Lerwick Port Authority reported that the number of oil-related vessels calling jumped 9.6% to 683, compared to 2012, with the tonnage up 28% to 3.8 million gross tonnes and the cargo handled by 36% to 189,090 tonnes.

Meanwhile there was a total of 5416 vessel arrivals last year, up 4.9%, with the tonnage of all ships ahead by 5.5% to 13.2m gross tonnes.

Use of the port by larger vessels was demonstrated by pilotage movements, up 7.6% to 1502, with 10.2 million gross tonnes of vessels piloted, up 5.3%. Fish landings totalled 66,745 tonnes, valued at £62.5m, up 8.6% on volume and 23% on value, while passengers on ferries between Lerwick and Orkney and Aberdeen increased 7% to 133,028 in 2013.

The only blot on the landscape was that cruise passenger numbers decreased - by 29% to 26,684 - resulting in a minor reduction of 0.85% in total passenger numbers to 160,445.

Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority's chief executive, said this was to due to "one-off factors relating to specific operators". "Bookings for this year indicated a strong recovery, with around 46,000 passengers expected," she said.

"In a very busy year, our investment in enhanced facilities again paid off. On top of regular traffic, the port handled various projects demonstrating the capacity of the deep-water harbour, including storing and transhipping modules weighing up to 450 tonnes for the Shetland Gas Plant and accommodating several floatels housing construction workers."

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