Port Activity Increases at Cromarty Firth, Greater Demand to Anchor Rigs

CFPA is enjoying a busy start to 2009, with the arrival of Hutton TLP, Arctic II, Sedco 712 and Ocean Guardian to Cromarty Firth.

For the Hutton TLP (tension leg platform), its visit to the Cromarty Firth marks a return to its birthplace. Constructed at Ardersier and Nigg in 1984, she was a cutting edge structure in her day. However, she ceased production in 2002, and her topsides (i.e. the facilities above water) were removed in Russia in 2003.

Last year, the legs were purchased for conversion into a drilling rig and were prepared to be towed to a Spanish shipyard for conversion works. However, before reaching the Cromarty Firth, the Spanish yard due to commercial difficulties, were unable to undertake the work and the tow was diverted to the Firth. The Hutton TLP, which is making quite a spectacle in the Firth, weighs 31,000 tonnes and is 45 meters high.

CFPA's positive port activity looks to continue, for it has received a high volume of enquiries for rigs to anchor in the Firth or come alongside at the Invergordon Service Base. This increased activity is expected to generate significant new business and employment opportunities for companies in the area.

The recent fall in oil price has led to an increased demand for the anchoring of rigs. In previous years it was not an uncommon sight to see up to 16 rigs anchored in the firth for protracted periods.

Ocean Princess, which was the 600th oilrig to visit the service base, since it was established in 1973, left the firth at the beginning of January after undergoing an extensive refit in the Queen's Dock.

CFPA's port manager/harbour master, Ken Gray, said, "It is great to see that, in times of a deepening world economic recession, we are bucking the trend and having such a positive start to 2009. Good news for us hopefully will mean good news for the Highland economy of which we play a significant part."

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