SCRABSTER Harbour in Caithness has achieved record turnover after capitalising on the boom in oil and gas activity off Shetland.

The harbour in the north coast town of Thurso has enjoyed a surge in oil and gas related traffic as companies work on projects that were approved before the crude price plunged.

Majors including BP and Shell are investing heavily in developing giant fields West of Shetland such as Clair Ridge.

Work on these was well underway before the oil price tumbled in the second half of last year and has continued amid the ensuing downturn in the North Sea.

A spokesman for the trust that operates Scrabster harbour said oil and gas vessel tonnage increased by around 70 per cent in the first three months of the current financial year.

The trust says the harbour says it is the closest mainland port to the oil and gas activity West of Shetland and on the Atlantic Frontier.

The harbour had £2.8m sales in the year to March 31, up 16 per cent on the preceding period.

The trust said the recent growth followed hefty investment in improving facilities at the port to increase its appeal to firms in the energy sector.

The harbour is also used by firms that are developing renewable energy projects off Orkney.

Cruise ships dock at the harbour and ferries to Orkney run from it.

The trust describes the harbour as one of the UK's top whitefish and shellfish landing ports.

Trust manager Sandy Mackie said: "The past year has seen an increase in vessel arrivals, vessel tonnages and the volume of cargo handled at the port. The increase in revenue is great news for us and we will strive to continue the good work we have so far put in."

The trust recorded a surplus of around £0.5m in the year to March.

The harbour employs 22 people.