Montrose Port: A Century-Old Hub for Global Trade

Quay to success

With a history dating back to the 12th century, Montrose has a long maritime tradition as a centre for international trade, which has further developed into a major commercial port for the oil and gas industry.

Montrose is advantageously located in a sheltered haven on the river Esk, within a mile of open sea and between the key hubs of Dundee and Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland. As such the port represents a cost-effective alternative for vessels in the region that is strategically situated close to the North Sea oil and gas market and its clients, which have included Shell, Hamilton Brothers, Brown & Root, Deminex, Marathon, Total AOCI, Amoco, Britoil, Chevron, Coflexip, Drexel, Merpro, Monsanto, Mobil, Occidental, Ranger, Texaco, BP, Viking Marine, GE Oil and Gas, Transocean and Schlumberger.

The port is operated by Montrose Port Authority (MPA), which works with partners within both the maritime and oil and gas industries to ensure that Montrose is able to deliver a complete service. “The full support package comes from our close relationship with local stevedores, crane operators and fuel suppliers and we all try to work together to make sure that the best services possible are present for the users of the port,” says John Paterson, chief executive at MPA. “That is manifestly important because we are in competition with other ports, but it is also important in attracting new customers by demonstrating that we provide the best possible service with our partners.”

Since the MPA was last featured in European Oil & Gas Magazine during 2012, it has continued to invest in the port and its facilities in line with the demands of increased North Sea oil and gas activity. Opened in August 2011,the authority invested £8.5 million in deepwater berths on the port’s South Quay, which led to an increase of shipping gross tonnage to the port of 70 per cent. MPA has continued to maintain a high level of momentum in matching the increased demands of both the oil and gas and commercial shipping markets with further investments to berths six and seven, located at the eastern extent of the North Quay. “We are about to open an upgraded berth seven and new berth six as a major project due for completion at the end of September 2014 and this will give us superior berthing facilities, which is something that we had decided the port needed,” John explains. “The project was carried out in two phases, the first phase was the upgrade of the east part of berth seven and this was linked to a new berth six at a new angle, meaning that we have good deepwater facilities with new quays for users of the port.

Following the completion of the deepwater quays located on the South Quay and the further £6 million investment into berths six and seven on the port’s North Quay, MPA has continued to witness an increase of tonnage arriving at the port for 2014. “The number of ships arriving at the port continues to grow in 2014. As of August there is an increase of 20 per cent on last year, which is a very healthy picture because both oil and gas and commercial shipping tonnage have increased. We expect this to continue to rise although perhaps not as dramatically as it has done, but with what is happening in the ports on the East of Scotland, which handle the oil and gas traffic, there is going to be a need for increased capacity at Montrose.”

Coinciding with the development of berthing facilities at the port, several companies working in close proximity with the MPA have also invested in port infrastructure, which has contributed to the growth of traffic flowing in and out of the port. The first round of berthing upgrades on the South Quay were carried out simultaneously with the development of a new grain terminal operated by Angus Cereals Limited, which has increased the level of grain bulk traffic to the port. On the energy side, Highland Fuels Limited has invested in the port’s marine gas oil services, which has led to an increase of the number of tankers arriving at the terminal trading in marine bunker fuel.

With improvements to the North Quay nearing completion MPA is currently focused on consolidating its current progress and exploring further opportunities for expansion. Presently in addition to oil and gas and bulk products, MPA handles onshore wind farm components and is currently gearing up to embrace future wind farm business as offshore wind farms continue to be developed. Also during the coming years MPA will look to operators within the oil and gas industry as potential new clients as the port continues to expand its service offering, as John concludes: “The strategic vision for the company over the next three to five years is to look at the oil and gas market to secure at least one supply ship contract, such as a multi-annual contract. The partnership we’re offering through Montrose will certainly be of interest to the oil companies concerned, so again it is a question of us all working together.”

Montrose Port Authority
Services: Port authority