Peterhead port has played a key role in the oil and gas industry since exploration first began and it is now preparing to capitalise on the next phase by combining the expertise of all those whose livelihoods depend on it.

The Peterhead Energy Hub is a partnership initiated by Peterhead Port Authority and ASCO, and its aim is to build on the port’s success in the oil and gas industry and become recognised as a centre of excellence for the renewable energy, decommissioning and subsea industries. ASCO’s investment in the port in 1973 developed the North Sea’s first dedicated oil service base.

Exploration, construction and production teams worked from the port with major infrastructure being built, shipped and commissioned from Peterhead. As the leading logistics centre for offshore support to the Central and Northern North Sea and Atlantic Margin, Peterhead, with its deepwater facilities, has played an important role in support of the subsea sector.

Success over the past 40 years has been achieved through a combination of the right infrastructure and the safe and effective material handling and logistics skills to ensure an efficient service. The Hub was formed around the same time as a £32million investment in additional quayside at Peterhead was completed in 2010.

Smith Quay provides sheltered, deepwater berthing for the new generation of larger subsea support and construction vessels as well as other sectors. A £50million redevelopment plan has just been given the go-ahead having received £5million of European Union and Scottish Government funding. The biggest development in modern times will mean the inner harbours will be deepened and a bigger fish market will be created.

Stephen Paterson, deputy chief executive and chief financial officer of the Port Authority, said: “The Energy Hub was established because there was a recognition we could do more to promote Peterhead as a base for servicing three particular sectors – subsea, offshore renewables and decommissioning work.

“When the offshore renewables sector was starting to emerge a few years back, there was no end of exhibitions, conferences and meetings to attend just to understand what the industry was requiring, to get your name out amongst the supply chain and to gather market intelligence.

“The concept of Peterhead Energy Hub was to share that burden and the information that we picked up.

“In some ways it was a joint marketing effort because it allowed us to attend exhibitions and conferences and seminars without everybody heading to every one.

“It was obviously better to share that information but also to build up an experience and expertise in the sector which each one of us couldn’t have done individually but together we could jointly bring together strengths to target sectors.”

He said that the port authority has access to the quayside but doesn’t provide services and facilities for clients.

“We tried to bring together a range of leading companies in Peterhead which were already well-known and established in the oil and gas sector but looking actively at how they could develop into other areas.”

Mike Ramsay, general manager of ASCO Peterhead said: “Peterhead provides ASCO with a prime headland location for servicing the North Sea oil and gas industry.

“The area is constantly expanding its offering and is ideally placed to address the current and future requirements of the industry.

“The Energy Hub collaboration provides valuable promotion of what Peterhead has to offer.”

The Hub now has established links with NorSea Group, Dales Engineering, JBS Group, Surelift, Score and Maritime Developments along with Energetica, Aberdeenshire Council, North East Scotland College and Robert Gordon’s University.

“The Hub has been a great success which is why we continue to invest time and money in it.

“I think all members recognise the benefits we get from sharing information and from jointly trying to promote the area and it has helped to raise the awareness of the skill set available locally in our supply chain.

“We recently held a successful exhibition looking at opportunities locally in the three sectors we are targeting and particularly tried to promote the port to decision-makers in the Aberdeen area and to get some of their senior management up here to see what Peterhead can offer.

“There is nothing better than standing in the middle of the port and seeing it for yourself rather than thinking it 30 miles up the road.

“I believe Aberdeen and Peterhead complement each other.

“If one port is busy, we are all busy and that also applies to Invergordon, Montrose and Dundee, as well as Aberdeen.

“We are all in some ways after and competing for the same business but we can also grow the share of that sector that is attracted to the North-east of Scotland because we are still losing activity to Norway and north-east England.

“You read an awful lot of reports which suggest a disproportionate share of decommissioning work from the UK sector of the North Sea is heading in the wrong direction.

“We are very keen to try and establish as much expertise as possible and whether that is in Aberdeen or Peterhead we will both gain from that.”