THE Port of Dundee’s owner has revealed ambitions to double the number of people working there to around 1,400 through a £10 million investment aimed at attracting North Sea decommissioning and offshore wind energy-related activity.

Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond set out his hopes as he unveiled plans for a major expansion project that the company believes is the biggest single investment in the history of the Port of Dundee

He also outlined plans to build the part played by the Port of Dundee in North Sea oil and gas industry project work, as well as pushing into the emerging decommissioning and offshore wind energy markets. Mr Hammond observed that, while global oil prices were low just now, the investment in the Port of Dundee was being undertaken with a long-term view.

Mr Hammond said about 680 people were working at the Port of Dundee at the moment. This number includes about 100 people employed directly by Forth Ports, as well as those working for the Port of Dundee’s tenants and customers.

And Mr Hammond declared: “Our ambition is to double that number.”

He projected that this hoped-for doubling of the number of people working at the port, a major player in the jute industry in decades past, could be achieved over the next five to seven years.

Mr Hammond highlighted the fact that about 60 acres of land would be released as part of the investment, and cited the potential to attract supply chain companies and service providers in the North Sea oil and gas, and offshore wind energy sectors to set up at the Port of Dundee. He noted that companies involved in break-up work as part of the decommissioning process could establish operations at the port.

He emphasised that the investment in the Port of Dundee was being privately-funded, and highlighted a belief that such port developments should not be financed by public money,

Forth Ports said that the investment would result in the development of the quayside at the east end of the Port of Dundee, connecting to the existing Prince Charles Wharf.

It noted that the quayside would offer heavy-lift capability over its entire 200-metre length. The plans provide for an ultra-heavy-lift pad at one end.

Highlighting ambitions to win work related to North Sea decommissioning and offshore wind energy, Forth Ports added: “This capability, coupled with a deep-water berth and significant land area of around 60 acres, will facilitate the handling of the largest cargoes, as demanded by these emerging North Sea industry sectors.”

Forth Ports said that the strengthened quayside would be equipped to handle marine projects such as offshore anchor and chain servicing, and offshore wind turbine assembly and deployment activities as well as operations and maintenance work.

It declared that the Port of Dundee was ideally placed because of its proximity to the proposed offshore windfarm developments in the Forth and Tay estuaries.

Mr Hammond said the £10m investment put Dundee in a position to benefit from offshore renewable projects such as the proposed 450-megawatt Neart na Gaoithe offshore windfarm in the Outer Forth Estuary.

He noted that Dundee was three to four hours’ sailing time away from this proposed windfarm development.

Forth Ports said construction work on expanding the Port of Dundee, which is a big player in the agricultural sector and expects to attract 10 cruise liner visits this year, would take 18 months to complete. Construction work is starting immediately.

Mr Hammond noted that Dundee would face competition from ports on Tyneside and Teesside, in terms of its planned expansion, and also in some cases from Aberdeen.

However, he also saw potential for the ports of Dundee and Aberdeen to both benefit from a growing market.

He said: “While there is competition [with Aberdeen] there is also a scenario that enables both ports to obtain advantage from a growing market, particularly in decommissioning.”

Mr Hammond also highlighted potential for further investment at Forth Ports’ Leith, Grangemouth and Rosyth sites. He cited plans by Forth Ports to invest a total of between £200 million and £250m across its business over the next five years.

He noted that Arcus’s European Infrastructure Fund, in which UK and mainland European pension funds are invested, owns 63 per cent of Forth Ports. The remaining 37 per cent is owned by PSP (Public Sector Pensions) of Canada.