Cromarty Firth Port Authority

Can do attitude

The Cromarty Firth is the premier deepwater port of choice for the oil and gas industry.

It offers an internationally recognised and locally based skilled workforce, combined with deep sheltered water, no weather restrictions and access 24 hours per day 365 days per year. All of this has combined to make the Cromarty Firth a proven destination of choice for multi-national subsea and drilling organisations.

Chief executive and harbour master, captain Ken Gray explains: “We are the primary port facility in the UK for both the maintenance and stacking of oil rigs. The Cromarty Firth can provide a highly skilled labour force, supported by modern deepwater port facilities.”

He continues: “We pride ourselves on a flexible approach to meeting customers’ needs and having a strong ‘can-do’ attitude. This approach, plus a programme of investment into facilities, has contributed to our continued growth.”

Originally a Naval Port, when the Navy departed the Firth in the 1970’s, the Trust Port was officially established and steadily began to grow. Today the facilities available at the Invergordon Service Base and throughout the Firth have become recognised worldwide as a centre for excellence in IRM and subsea fabrication, maintenance and logistics.

With dedicated sheltered deepwater anchorages, a service base measuring over 35 acres, with 450 metres of deepwater quay and dedicated facilities for semi-submersible and jack-up rigs of all sizes, some of the world’s largest drilling companies have used the facilities in the Firth and the experienced local supply chain to meet their IRM requirements.

Ken adds: “The Sedco 712 is currently alongside the Invergordon Service Base, where it is undergoing one of the largest maintenance, upgrade and reactivation projects that the Firth has supported and will be in Port for eight months in total.”

The figures speak for themselves. Over the last 30 years, more than 630 rigs have visited the Firth to undertake IRM works and to take advantage of the sheltered anchorage. The port also benefits significantly from developments taking place in the central North Sea and West of Shetland and has seen a steady growth in demand for port facilities in recent years as a direct result.

The port recognises that investment has been a key factor in maintaining the appeal of the Cromarty Firth to the oil and gas sector. The Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA) is a Trust Port managed by a small specialist team with an elected board, and all the money generated has to be invested back into the port facilities.

In 2012 Cromarty Firth Port Authority invested £1 million into the reactivation of 2.6 acres of land at the Invergordon Service Base, now providing much needed additional lay down project space. Ambitious expansion plans for the Invergordon Service Base, due to get underway in early 2014, will see £20 million invested and will see nine acres reclaimed from the sea, adding much needed operational space complete with direct access to a new deepwater berth.

Developments at Nigg Energy Park and Highland Deephaven have also contributed to the Cromarty Firth offering. The modern pipe spooling base at Highland Deephaven, Evanton, operated by Technip, has a causeway spooling facility over two kilometres in length and has, in the last year, undergone an upgrade to its deepwater mooring system, in anticipation of the arrival of the new pipe laying vessel, Deep Energy.

The Cromarty Firth is also starting to benefit from the recently activated dry-dock at Nigg Energy Park. New business should be attracted by this facility, which has been welcomed by CFPA as an additional complementary offering alongside the Invergordon Service Base.

The Firth is linked by pipeline to the Beatrice and Jacky fields and the Nigg oil terminal, operated by Ithaca Energy, can accommodate tankers up to 150,000 DWT. Loading, discharging, ship-to-ship transfer and slops handling facilities all take place in the Firth.

Ken concludes: “The Port Authority recently undertook a 20 year master planning exercise to ensure that we continue to adapt to changing demand and continue to meet our customer’s needs and those of the supply chain. Our vision for the future, combined with our major expansion plans should see the Cromarty Firth remain as the premier oil and gas facility for the next 20 years and beyond.”

Cromarty Firth Port Authority
Services: Deepwater port and associated activities