More than 110 tanker operations have taken place in Scapa Flow over the past 12 months – the highest figure recorded for many years.
The tanker activity involved vessels taking delivery of crude oil from the Flotta Terminal as well as ship-to-ship transfers.
Graham Sinclair, chairman of Orkney Islands Council’s development and infrastructure committee, said: “Since the Maritime and Coastguard Agency granted an oil transfer licence in March 2015, Scapa Flow has become established as the European location of choice for ship-to-ship operations conducted at anchor.
“As well as highlighting the value to Orkney of the safe and sheltered waters the harbour provides, the volume of business also demonstrates the high capability of Marine Services staff and crews in delivering a seamless, impeccable service and upholding Scapa Flow’s renowned environmental and safety record.
“Overall tanker activity over the past 12 months is at a level we haven’t seen for around 10 years. The revenue generated is important to the financial sustainability of our harbour operations and, when surpluses are made, these are used to boost the council’s reserves.
"This has helped to sustain frontline council services at a time when funding for such services is and continues to be under considerable pressure. Over the last three years, the Harbour Authority has made a substantial contribution to the reserves.
OIC Marine Services is actively pursuing a diverse portfolio of activity for Scapa Flow, including accommodation platform and rig maintenance and liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations.
Councillor Sinclair added: “Attracting new business is important for the local supply chain, whose skills and professionalism contribute to the overall high level of service that maritime industries expect and demand.
“This diversification is essential to ensuring that the port remains viable and to enable it to continue contributing to council finances and to local employment.”
After a competitive tendering exercise, the Harbour Authority will in the coming weeks instruct a specialist company to undertake the initial investigative and analytical work needed for a 20-year Ports Master Plan for Orkney.
Stakeholders, including current and potential future users of local ports, will be asked for their views on future infrastructure and services requirements, to help ensure that Orkney is well placed to benefit from a broad range of maritime activity for many years to come.