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A busy year for Montrose

The following article appeared in the September issue of Freight Business Journal

The Port of Montrose in north-eastern Scotland has had a busy year, issues in the oil and gas sector notwithstanding, says chief executive Nik Scott-Gray.

“It’s a challenging market, but our volumes have held up well,” he says. “It’s an unpredictable market in oil and gas, but we’ve got strength in other markets such as agribulks.”

Major users of the port, Rix Shipping, has invested heavily, rebuilding a quayside shed of 42,000sq.ft and capable of holding 22,000 tonnes and then following it up with another just outside the port estate, completed just in time for this year’s harvest.

Feed barley, wheat and rapeseed are among the exports from this prime agricultural region. Another major agro handler of Montrose is Angus Cereals.

Montrose – a trust port, and which plans to stay that way – has been attending shows such as Breakbulk Europe 2016 in partnership with Rix and its other major stevedore, Whyte Cargo Handling.

Exports of renewables have also been showing good potential, Nik Scott-Gray comments. “We hope to achieve good growth in refuse derived fuel, solid recovered fuel and biomass,” he says. “And we’re also still watching the offshore wind energy sector” – although he is frustrated by the lack of decisive government action in this sector: “The Scottish Government needs to show real guidance on this.”

Another one to watch is the oil and gas rig decommissioning market and one tenant has a ‘NORM’ licence, but as in “offshore wind, it’s difficult to fully understand the timescales involved.”

But the port can meanwhile put in the groundwork, applying for licences and so on to allow decommissioning sites to be built and to be in position to move quickly when the market starts to take off.

Meanwhile, the rest of oil and gas market remains in a state of flux, says Nik Scott-Gray. “The industry is having to make savings, to cut its coat according to the cloth and it’s certainly a very tough market.”

But Montrose is well placed to handle new business. “One thing we can offer is a high level of flexibility and good quality of service.”

Taking advantage of the good rail links Montrose enjoys is another area Nik Scott-Gray would like to get involved in. Montrose is on the main line between Aberdeen and the south, although its rail connection hasn’t been used for port cargo for some years. “Again, it’s an important part of the infrastructure near the port, which offers great potential.”


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