Aberdeen Harbour bosses have confirmed that there will be a phased opening next year of the Aberdeen Harbour Expansion Project (AHEP) – the largest marine infrastructure scheme under way in the UK.
Construction, which began in early 2017, is now 70% complete. Dragados had been appointed to the project in 2016 but withdrew earlier this year after reaching an agreement with the client.
The project will enable berthing of vessels up to 300m in length. Once complete, the South Harbour will have more than 1.3km of protective breakwater, 1,400m of deep-water quays, a water depth of up to 15m, more than 125,000m² of lay-down area and a 165m-wide entrance channel.
Keith Young, AHEP project director, said: “Since taking over the site in May, we have seen considerable progress and overcome several engineering challenges. Much of the 70% of progress involves dredging work below the water line and construction of the North Breakwater and fixed quay areas.
“Approximately 2.4 million cubic metres of rock have been removed from the seabed using the world’s largest dredgers, and we are pleased that this material will be reused elsewhere within the project. The second-half of this year has seen the arrival of three caissons for the Castlegate (north) and Dunnottar (east) Quays, and revetment work on what will be the open quay sections of the Harbour.”
The final eight caissons are expected to arrive from Cromarty Firth in 2021 once winter weather conditions have receded. This will coincide with the beginning of construction of the South Breakwater and the Crown Wall – an 8m-high structure that will run along the length of the North Breakwater to protect the Harbour from significant waves.
“The knowledge, skill and innovation that is going into every element of construction is truly humbling, and I am very proud of everyone who is involved in this monumental project,” said Young.
Michelle Handforth, chief executive of Aberdeen Harbour Board, said: “Like any project of this scale we have encountered a number of challenges, but we are happy and confident in the position we are in at the end of this year.
“The expansion of Aberdeen Harbour has never been more important, both for the north-east and the rest of the country. South Harbour will open a world of possibilities and will position Aberdeen as a world leader in the changing energy landscape, while radically growing Scotland’s maritime industry and international shipping potential.
“We are working extremely closely with customers, port users and industry organisations around the UK to maximise the potential for the expanded port in Aberdeen as we gear up to our phased opening next year.”