THE downturn in the North Sea oil industry is proving to have a silver lining for Dundee.
After another jack-up rig was brought into the Port of Dundee at the weekend, there are now three of the platforms berthed there for the first time in its history.
The rigs, which are all owned by offshore contractor Rowan Drilling, are having maintenance work carried out.
Rod Hutton, who works for oil industry analysis firm IHS Markit, said the rigs would bring a financial boost both to the port and associated sub-contractors who work there.
He said: “The rigs are all in dock as the work programmes they were being used for have finished.
“The North Sea is obviously in the middle of a huge downturn at present. As such, the company has not managed to secure follow-on contracts for the rigs.
“The Rowan Stavanger has been in Dundee since July last year, when its last contract finished. Then the Rowan Norway was brought to Dundee in June this year, following the completion of a contract in Norway.
“The third rig — the Rowan Gorilla VII — came into Dundee over the weekend.
“It’s still contracted until December, but the company hasn’t managed to secure any work for it so it has been moved inshore.
“Because these rigs are not out in the field, the costs of operating them are much less.
“The port will get fees for the rigs being berthed there and local businesses should see a spin-off in work, mainly for sub-contractors carrying out maintenance work on the rigs.
“Dundee is a good location for taking jack-up rigs as the port is close to where the rigs have recently been operational. It’s obviously hard to predict how long they will be in Dundee as it depends when they get an operator, and that depends on how the industry progresses.”
A spokesman for the Port of Dundee said: “The Rowan Gorilla VII has joined the Norway and the Stavanger jack-up rigs in the Port of Dundee for a scheduled inspection and project preparation work.
“The Port of Dundee is particularly suited to accommodating these rigs due to its berths and the proximity of hard rock to the river bed.”
Dundee City East MSP Shona Robison welcomed the boost to the local economy.
She said: “The Rowan Gorilla VII rig arriving at the weekend demonstrates that Dundee Port is going from strength to strength.
“Dundee Port has a growing reputation for being an easily-accessible deep water port, and I am delighted that the three rigs now situated in Dundee will also potentially create spin-off work for local businesses.”
Joe FitzPatrick, MSP for Dundee City West, added: “I visited the port last week and the operators are very confident about its future.
“They are pursuing varied opportunities for growth, including temporary docking and repair and maintenance of rigs like this, as well as decommissioning.
“Dundee Port is investing £10 million into bringing a huge area of land and quayside into readiness. That will be available for a variety of uses over different sectors.
“The more operators such as Rowan see the potential at Dundee, the more awareness will spread about the facilities here, which can only be good for the port and the city.”