Yard set for new lease of life as port expands

NEW LIFE ... the McNulty Offshore site in Commercial Road, South Shields.
NEW LIFE ... the McNulty Offshore site in Commercial Road, South Shields.

A FORMER offshore yard in South Tyneside could be reopened as part of ambitious expansion plans by the booming Port of Tyne.

McNulty Offshore in Commercial Road, South Shields, was plunged into administration in early 2012 after orders dried up.

There were fears the shutdown of the famous offshore facility signalled the end of ship-related operations at the riverside yard stretching back 200 years.

But now the Port of Tyne’s boss has hinted that the once-thriving offshore facility could be given a new lease of life.

Speaking after the announcement of five years of unbroken growth, port chief executive officer Andrew Moffat said: “McNulty was bought in 2012, and I think we have got opportunities in the offshore sector.

“This is something we may pursue over the next 12 months.”

The port acquired 10 acres of land at the yard, adjoining its Tyne Dock estate, from administrators in May 2012 for an undisclosed sum.

At the time of the acquisition, Mr Moffat told the Gazette: “It is vital that land like this is retained for industrial and commercial use, and its acquisition will facilitate the delivery of the port’s growth plans across our diverse portfolio of interests. The site is well known to those in the offshore sector, and provides potential for developments in the associated wind, oil and gas sectors.”

Mr Moffat also revealed that during his recent visit to the yard, he pressed Prime Minister David Cameron on the Government’s long-term commitment to wind turbines, amid fears the sector is stalling.

Mr Moffat said the port is in talks with a potential wind turbine manufacturer about establishing a base on the north side of the Tyne.

Though the port’s own workforce now totals 566, it also supports almost 10,500 direct and indirect jobs across the region, according to Mr Moffat.

And there is potential for more growth in direct employment at the port as it was revealed that new apprenticeships alone are due to increase from 16 to 20 by the end of the year.

He also confirmed the port’s commitment to more growth in its renewable energy operations, including plans for a potential £180m extension of its wood pellet cargo facilities.

The Gazette reported yesterday how port bosses are celebrating five years of record growth, with cargo volumes increasing by 25 per cent to 8.1 million tonnes and turnover rising by 16 per cent to £73m.

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