Nigg yard attracts economic hopes and curiosity

Engineering worker Fabrication work at Nigg supported well paid jobs according to Highland Council

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The fabrication yard at Nigg emerged during the North Sea oil and gas boom of the 1970s and 80s.

At its height, according to Highland Council figures, it provided for 5,000 highly-paid jobs and was worth £100m-a-year to the Highlands economy.

But its success was closely tied to the demand for offshore platforms and most of the site has stood empty since 2002. It was offered for sale in 2005.

Nigg's mothballed state has attracted the interest of urban explorers and photographers who seek out closed down industrial, military and medical sites and document their abandoned interiors.

Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Scottish government, meanwhile, have been keen to see it put back into use as a working yard.

The local authority estimated in 2008 that reviving Nigg as a "multi-user industrial facility" could provide an average of 800-850 jobs over 15-20 years.

Highland Council also said a busy Nigg could generate between £60m and £65m a year to the Highlands economy.

Deep water

The yard's potential for serving Scotland's emerging renewable energy sector were set out in an official planning document published in July 2010 called N-RIP Stage Two.

Its authors HIE and Scottish Enterprise said the site was well developed and the quay and dry dock remained operable, while its largest sheds were in excellent repair.

The site covers 283 acres (96.14 hectares) and has deep water anchorage, a dry dock along with cavernous fabrication, assembly and warehouse buildings.

An oil terminal nearby can handle tankers of up to 160,000 tonnes deadweight tonnage - the total weight of a ship with its fuel, crew and cargo onboard.

The majority of the site is owned by US engineering giant KBR Ltd, with the dock and a loading area leased to KBR until 2031 by the Wakelyn Trust, which represents a family landowner.

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