Highlands & Islands

Kishorn: Rig work 'wakens sleeping giant'

Aerial view of Kishorn Image copyright Kishorn Port Ltd
Image caption Kishorn was recently refurbished

A west Highlands yard has taken on its first major oil and gas industry contract in more than 40 years.

Kishorn was used in the 1970s for the construction of the Ninian Central oil production platform.

Weighing more than 600,000 tonnes, the platform was the world's largest floating concrete structure.

Now Kishorn is to being used for servicing the world's biggest semi-submersible offshore drilling rig, Ocean GreatWhite.

The 60,800-tonne rig, which was towed from Singapore via Las Palmas in the Canaries, requires deep water for anchoring.

Image caption The rig at Kishorn
Image copyright Kishorn Port Ltd
Image caption The Ocean GreatWhite is to be serviced before being moved to the North Sea

Following the servicing work, the rig will be put to use in a drilling contract in the North Sea.

The Highlands yard was recently refurbished to make it ready for new work.

Simon Russell, director at Kishorn Port, said: "We've been working for 10 years on the regeneration of the port, and this is like the sleeping giant awakening.

"It's an exciting time for the area, and hopefully this work will lead to further contracts, and local employment."

Kishorn: A brief history

Image copyright Kishorn Port Ltd
Image caption The facilities at Kishorn were originally developed to meet needs from North Sea oil and gas industry

The dry dock is part of the Kishorn Yard, which was developed in the 1970s as a manufacturing and fabrication yard for oil platforms.

Between 1975 and 1987, it was owned by Howard Doris Ltd and in 1977 more than 3,000 people were employed at the site.

There was not enough accommodation for so many workers in this part of the north west Highlands coast so two retired cruise ships, Rangatira and the Odysseus, were brought in to accommodate them.

The yard was used in the construction of the North Sea oil and gas industry's massive Ninian Central Platform in the late 1970s.

This structure weighed 600,000 tonnes once completed, making it the largest man-made moveable object at the time. Seven tugs were required to tow it from Loch Kishorn to its North Sea site.

The dry dock was last used in the 1990s for the making of two caissons to support the Skye Bridge.

Kishorn's heydays are also remembered in the folk song Kishorn Commandos. It can still be heard sung in pubs on the west coast.

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