New owners plan to 'reinvent the wheel' at Ardersier fabrication yard
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Ardersier's long dormant fabrication yard is set to take on a new life as one of Europe's most important locations for renewable energy and decommissioning, according to its new owners.
Business partners Tony O’Sullivan and Steve Regan, former chief executive of civil engineering firm Careys, have acquired the former McDermott fabrication site for an undisclosed sum.
The new owners aim to use the site for both the decommissioning of redundant oil and gas infrastructure and to support Scotland's renewable energy sector by providing fabrication and logistics facilities for offshore and fixed wind developments, as well as catering for other green energy developments such as green hydrogen.
Mr O'Sullivan and Mr Regan, who registered their new business, Ardersier Port (Scotland), in May, also own Messiah Decommissioning, which is currently dismantling the Hutton platform legs at Queen’s Dock at Port of Cromarty Firth.
Ardersier Port (Scotland) describes the facility as the largest brownfield port in the United Kingdom and say it has been identified as one of just three UK east coast sites with the size, scale, shape, and location capable of being an offshore renewable energy hub port.
"Using circular economy practices the facility will accommodate multiple complementary work streams from decommissioning of oil and gas assets, recycling of wind turbines, production of sustainable aggregates and concrete, large scale manufacturing, offshore wind logistics and fabrication, sustainable energy production as well as offering its extensive marine facilities for the upgrade and maintenance of existing assets."
Announcing the purchase on social media, Mr O'Sullivan said Ardersier Port, which comprises 450 acres onshore and a further 340 acres offshore, would become "Europe's leading decommissioning, floating wind, fixed wind and hydrogen facility."
"Dredging will commence this year and the port will be open in 2022," Mr Sullivan revealed.
"When you have a dream and you don’t know how to say no, you can live your dream. Today is a monumental move towards the energy transition that the UK needs and desires. Today Steve and I will start to reinvent the wheel."
Opened by US engineering group McDermott in 1972, at its height the Ardersier fabrication yard had some 4500 staff, making it the largest private sector employer in the Highlands.
However, a fall in demand finally led to the facility's closure in 2001.
In 2007, Highland Council approved ambitious plans for a 1950 home development, along with a marina, hotel, visitor centre and community facilities including a primary school, but more more recently the authority also backed its potential as a site for renewables-related development as part of the Scottish Government’s national renewables infrastructure plan.
The facility was formerly owned by Derbyshire-based land and property developer CWC Group, which bought the yard in 2016 in a £5 million deal after its previous owner went into administration.