August 29 - Forth Ports Limited and AF Offshore Decom UK will form a joint venture, AF Dundee, which aims to establish a North Sea oil and gas decommissioning hub in Dundee, Scotland.

The heads of agreement for the joint venture was signed by AF Offshore Decom UK and Dundeecom, the public/private partnership between Dundee City Council, DC Thomson and Forth Ports.

According to Forth Ports, which owns the Port of Dundee, the port is optimally placed to accommodate a significant share of North Sea decommissioning work due to its proximity to many UK North Sea oil and gas assets. 

Forth Ports' GBP10 million (USD12 million) investment programme will extend the quay and will be specifically designed to allow the port to handle large-scale loads demanded during decommissioning operations and renewable energy projects.

Paul Wheelhouse, the minister for business, innovation and energy in the Scottish Government, visited the port last week and was briefed on the investment programme. 

"The investment will deliver important infrastructure improvements, allowing Dundee to seize its share of the major economic opportunities which both decommissioning and offshore wind projects represent for Scotland," said Wheelhouse.

"Decommissioning is a growing market, with spend forecast to reach GBP17 billion (USD22 billion) over the decade to 2025. The Scottish Government is determined to ensure we have the infrastructure we need to allow the Scottish supply chain to compete for, and win, this new work. Our action plan and GBP5 million (USD6 million) challenge fund will help ensure Scottish companies can do exactly that."

(LtoR) David Webster, port manger, Charles Hammond chief executive Forth Ports, Erwin Lammertink vice president AF Offshore, Cllr John Alexander leader of Dundee City Council and Callum Falconer chief executive Dundeecom.

Meanwhile, representatives of the offshore oil and gas industry, government agencies, port users and stakeholders will be given an insight into the decommissioning operations and opportunities at the expanded deepwater Dales Voe Base at Lerwick Harbour in Shetland, Scotland today. 

Forming a backdrop to the visit will be the former Buchan Alpha floating production unit (FPU), which arrived in the Voe to be decommissioned under a contract awarded by Repsol Sinopec Resources UK to Veolia, in association with Peterson

Sandra Laurenson, chief executive of the Lerwick Port Authority, said: "As well as celebrating the investment recently made by the port, we are already looking ahead to future requirements, with Lerwick being seen increasingly as the potential location for a UK ultra-deepwater decommissioning facility, to suit the largest semi-submersible crane vessels."

The dismantling and recycling of the Buchan FPU will be carried out at the port authority's bases at Dales Voe and Greenhead. Once deballasted, the FPU will be moved alongside Dales Voe Base, which features a 12.5 m water depth. 

The base has been expanded in a GBP11.95 million (USD15.5 million) project by the port authority, with GBP2.39 million (USD3 million) in funding from the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and the Bank of Scotland. 

The project added 75 m to bring the quay to 127 m in length, providing the offshore industry with the strongest quay in the UK, at 60 tonnes per sq m, claims Lerwick Port Authority. It also created an adjacent 45,000 sq m of laydown space.   

Photo credit: John Coutts.