£350m Aberdeen Harbour expansion approved

A £350 million expansion of Aberdeen Harbour has been sanctioned by the harbour’s board and the construction contract with preferred bidder Dragados UK is due to be formalised on Tuesday.

The expansion will prepare the harbour to attract large-scale North Sea decommissioning work and accommodate much larger vessels including cruise ships.

The new facilities will include 1,400 metres of new quay with a water depth of up to 10.5 metres and will create an additional 125,000 square metres of lay-down area.

Aberdeen Harbour said an independent study commissioned by Scottish Enterprise estimated the development will generate an extra £1 billion a year for the local economy by 2035 and create 7,000 equivalent jobs.

Funding arrangements for the project have included commercial borrowing from the European Investment Bank and funding from the Aberdeen City & Region Deal.

European Investment Bank vice president Jonathan Taylor said: “Continued investment at Europe’s leading ports is essential to improve infrastructure and to cater for ever-changing shipping needs.

“The European Investment Bank is pleased to support the transformational Nigg Bay development that will significantly increase quayside space, allow deep-water access for larger vessels and ensure Aberdeen’s continued strong contribution to the Scottish economy.”

Aberdeen Harbour Board CEO Colin Parker said: “Following a detailed engagement process, Aberdeen Harbour Board, in partnership with Dragados UK, a main contractor, will develop facilities over the next three years that will represent a step change in the marine support capabilities in Scotland.

“These will transform the port’s ability to accommodate the trend for larger vessels we are witnessing across a whole range of industries.

“The expansion will afford existing customers the opportunity to diversify and expand their interests, whilst attracting new customers and markets to the port, including up-scaled decommissioning activity, a more significant share of the available cruise vessel fleet and larger more cost-effective commercial vessels.”

Alistair Mackenzie, chairman of Aberdeen Harbour Board, said: “Aberdeen Harbour has been in existence for almost 900 years.

“Its longevity can be attributed to its ability to adapt to changing trading requirements and being forward-thinking in delivering new and improved facilities to support its customers, while at the same time attracting new business.

“This major new chapter in the port’s history continues this approach and underpins the Trust Port ethos of viewing future generations as key stakeholders.

“We believe that the infrastructure developed in Nigg Bay will encourage and support the continued prosperity of the city and region that the harbour serves and make a significant national economic contribution.”

Dragados UK was named as the board’s preferred bidder in September this year and the company announced that they plan to start construction on site in early 2017.