Kishorn Port Ltd (KPL), the joint venture that is seeking to resurrect the redundant oil fabrication yard at Kishorn on the west coast of Scotland, has commenced the first phase of re-instating the dry dock on the site. With the continuing support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), a contract has been issued to Harris Pye, a Welsh marine engineering company, to trial the dock gates which were last opened when the Skye Bridge caissons were constructed there in 1993.

Simon Russell, Director commented, “The dry dock at Kishorn is one of the largest in western Europe at 160 metres in diameter with 13 metres of draft available, allowing it to accommodate some of the largest floating structures that have been fabricated for the North Sea oil and gas industry. Indeed, the Ninian Central production platform which at 610,000 tonnes is one of the largest concrete structures ever to have moved across the face of the earth, was constructed there in the late 1970’s.”

The contract includes the fabrication of a new set of gate seals and culvert tube covers, which when installed will allow the dry dock to be pumped dry for the first time in almost 25 years. The dry dock is of such a size that it will take four days using six huge 12” pumps to empty it. Once the dock is emptied, it will allow inspection of the facility, ensuring that it can be re-used for a wide range of prospective contracts. The two massive hollow concrete dock gates, each weighing in excess of 13,000 tonnes, will also be pumped out to ensure that they can be floated to allow the movement of structures into the dry dock.

Kishorn Port Ltd, a joint venture between Ferguson Transport & Shipping and Leiths (Scotland) Ltd, has been working hard over the last eight years to identify markets that need access to sheltered deep water, big lay down areas and a large dry dock. To date this has included the offshore renewables industry which has a requirement for the serial production of large concrete structures. Kishorn, with its on-site quarry and concrete production facilities is attracting attention from this growth market. Interest in the Yard has also been expressed by oil and gas fabricators and latterly, the oil and gas decommissioning sector. Whilst the oil and gas industry in the North Sea is currently facing difficult times, there is an expanding requirement to decommission facilities that are at the end of their economic life.

The projected cost of decommissioning the North Sea oil and gas infrastructure has been estimated at £75bn and continues to grow. To date, most of the large contracts have gone to yards elsewhere in Europe or Scandinavia, mainly because there is a shortage of adequate licenced facilities in Scotland.

Alasdair Ferguson, a KPL Director commented “If Scotland is to capture a share of this market, it is essential to invest in and bring on stream sites such as Kishorn and make them “decommissioning ready”. Dry docks are ideal for decommissioning floating structures in a contained environment, particularly if they can be accessed by super heavy lift vessels that need sheltered deep water up to 38 metres in depth where 70 metres is available to tranship their loads.”

Proving and cycling the dry dock at Kishorn is just the first phase of its development. Licencing the Yard for handling decommissioning projects is the next hurdle and consultation with the appropriate authorities has already started. Further development of its shore side facilities and infrastructure will be needed and Kishorn Port is actively seeking partners with decommissioning experience to work with KPL to take the Yard forward into this exciting and expanding market. 

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