Dundee’s bid for big oil projects rejected because port is ‘too shallow’

Dundee’s bid to become a centre for large-scale oil and gas decommissioning projects was rejected because the approach to the port is “too shallow”.

Oil rigs at the Port of Dundee (stock image)

Despite owner Forth Ports investing £10 million to ensure the port was capable of handling large-scale projects,  Shetland was chosen this month as the best site to carry out large-scale oil and gas decommissioning.

Consultants Ernst and Young decided Dundee was unsuitable after just the first of its three testing stages.

Its full report is still to be published but energy minister Paul Wheelhouse revealed the reason for Dundee’s rejection in a response to a written parliamentary question by Conservative MSP Bill Bowman.

He said the approach to the docks only has a depth of six metres, not the nine required, and with dredging work, the approach to Dales Voe in Shetland will be 24 metres deep.

He said: “Although Dundee is suitable for a range of decommissioning works, because the approach depth was insufficient for those projects requiring a deep water port, it was therefore not assessed further than Stage one.”

Stuart Wallace, chief operating officer of Forth Ports, which owns the Port of Dundee, hit back, saying the dock was easily capable of handling large-scale decommissioning work.

He said: “The Port of Dundee has the largest permanent quayside crane, strongest quayside and biggest indoor decommissioning facility in Scotland.

“Dundee regularly welcomes large jack-up rigs into the Tay and can handle all vessels any other east of Scotland port can accept.

“There are only three vessels operating in the market that require 30m+ water depth, however this is a very small part of the market.

“With additional investment, the approach channel to the port could be enhanced.”

Mr Bowman said: “It is disappointing to be told Dundee did not pass the first test, although the SNP has still yet to publish the details.”