Business and political leaders have hailed a £10 million cash injection designed to position the Port of Dundee as a key base for the multi-billion-pound North Sea renewables and decommissioning sectors.
Owner Forth Ports said the investment was the largest in the dock’s history and would ensure Dundee was on the radar of major players in oil and gas and green energy.
The operator is hopeful its commitment will spark further private-sector investment in the docks and help create new employment for the city.
The long-term ambition is to double the size of the current workforce at the docks from around 700 to 1,400.
“This is an important, privately-funded investment for the Port of Dundee, which is ideally placed to service the needs of North Sea oil and gas, decommissioning and Scotland’s offshore wind sector over the coming years,” Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond said during a visit to the docks.
Work on creating a new 200m-long quay that will connect to Prince Charles Wharf from the east end of the port will begin immediately and is expected to take 18 months to complete.
The new facility will have heavy-lift capabilities along its length to allow for activities such as offshore anchor and chain servicing and maintenance operations.
However, there will also be a specific ultra-heavy lift pad at one end capable of dealing with major infrastructure.
A total of 60 acres of hard-standing and warehousing have also been set aside to support onshore operations.
The investment was welcomed by Tim Allan, president of Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce.
He said the chamber had long campaigned to bring decommissioning work to the city and was “thrilled” to see the necessary infrastructure investments being made.
“It is a huge opportunity for Scotland and for Dundee and obviously this is fantastic for the city,” he said.
A recent report by consultants Douglas Westwood suggested up to 150 North Sea platforms could be scrapped over the next 10 years.
The same firm this week estimated the size of the North Sea decommissioning prize at $70-82 billion over the next quarter century, although some industry observers believe it would be folly to prematurely run-down the basin’s operational assets.
The wind power sector could also deliver a major economic boost for Dundee if the giant Neart Na Gaoithe, Inch Cape and Seagreen offshore wind arrays which all lie within the outer firths of Tay and Forth are ever built.
However, investment in the sector is largely on hold awaiting the outcome of a judicial review sought by charity RSPB Scotland into the Scottish Government’s decision to consent the schemes.
Despite the obstacles, Mr Hammond was upbeat.
“The port’s existing skills base and location, combined with its riverside berths, deep water and rock river bed, put the port in a key position to become a hub for these sectors for construction, operations and maintenance and for decommissioning,” he said.
“Our investment also puts Dundee in a position to benefit from offshore renewable projects such as Neart na Gaoithe, which has the potential to deliver cost-efficient renewable energy and economic benefits for Dundee.
“We are committed to investing in the port to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support these industries and for the city of Dundee to fully capitalise on the significant opportunities they present.”
Mr Hammond briefed Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing on the investment.
“When I met Forth Ports in Dundee to discuss their potential plans for the future, it was clear this major development can open the region to business opportunities in new markets not to mention the inevitable jobs boost that a project of this size will deliver.”