New port permission opens way for jobs

A bird's eye view of the Port of Blyth, showing the 2.3hectare decommissioning site.
A bird's eye view of the Port of Blyth, showing the 2.3hectare decommissioning site.
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The Port of Blyth has unveiled a move into the offshore decommissioning market, with the prospect of more jobs flowing into the town.

It follows confirmation of the North-East port’s successful application for a decommissioning licence from the UK Environment Agency after a year of working together on the project.

The port is now readying a site suitable for decommissioning at its busy Battleship Wharf terminal during 2018.

The designated 2.3-hectare decom site within the terminal is now licenced to handle up to 50,000 tonnes of offshore energy materials per year, with the port likely to focus on small to medium-sized projects and pieces up to 4,000 tonnes in response to demand.

Already benefiting from direct access to deep-water berths to over 9.5m and an adjacent rail link, work will begin to prepare a heavy-duty concrete base and quarantine areas for hazardous waste.

Martin Lawlor, chief executive of Port of Blyth, said: “Securing this decom licence is excellent news for the Port of Blyth. It enables us to diversify our offering to the offshore energy market and makes good use of our experience of the sector particularly in relation to our heavy lift and project cargo handling expertise.”

Having reported a second consecutive year of record financial figures in April, including a 17 per cent growth in turnover, the Port is now viewed as one of the UK’s fastest-growing Trust Ports, driven largely by a surge in offshore-related activities.

The development of decommissioning activities in the North Sea is seen as a key area for growth.

The capture of major new clients, Global Marine Group and DeepOcean, as well as key roles on a number of large-scale projects, including the launch of world’s largest pipe-laying system, with Royal IHC, the Belgium-UK Nemo Link interconnector and the development of EDF Renewables’ Blyth offshore demonstrator windfarm, has cemented the Port’s position as one of the UK’s leading offshore-energy support bases.

Roger Esson, chief executive of Decom North Sea, the decommissioning sector’s membership organisation, said: “This successful application for a decommissioning licence from the UK Environment Agency clearly demonstrates the benefits brought by early communication between the supply chain and sector regulators.

“The Port of Blyth has clearly prepared for the scope of North Sea decommissioning work to come and I am delighted to see the North East of England rise to the challenge of optimising the opportunities that arise within the sector.”