The Aberdeen Harbour Board in Scotland has awarded a £5.2m contract to Westminster Dredging for improvements to its port entrance, as well as the widening and deepening of the navigation channel.
Westminster Dredging will use a combination of dredging techniques to ensure that the harbour can accommodate larger vessels to meet the future needs.
Harbour Board chief executive Colin Parker said that the investment will help it to stay ahead of the game since the port is the centre of activity for the energy industry's marine operations in north-west Europe.
"Once completed this work will be of great benefit to our customers and should enable us to be involved in new markets, such as offshore wind turbine deployment," Parker said.
"Every effort will be made to ensure the harbour continues to function during the works at a time when we are experiencing record levels of activity."
Westminster Dredging is set to deepen the first third of the entrance channel to 8m, which will slope up to the existing 6m. The deeper entrance to the port is expected to help address disrupting traffic movements during times of easterly gales.
The company will also widen the narrow part of the entrance from 34m to 60m, which is expected to be complete by early October 2012.
The design, nature and timing of the works have been devised in consultation with a wide cross-section of stakeholder groups to minimise potential disruption.
Aberdeen City Council director of enterprise planning and infrastructure Gordon McIntosh said that the investment will help maintain Aberdeen's status as a world-class port.
"The harbour is the main commercial port for the north-east of Scotland and the principal port in Europe for marine support of the North Sea's oil and gas industry so therefore plays a vital role in the UK economy," McIntosh said.
"Significant investment at the harbour is hugely positive for the city as a whole and once complete these developments will enable the port to support larger projects both on land and offshore," he added.
Aberdeen Harbour currently handles over 25 million tonnes of shipping and more than five million tonnes of cargo, worth £1.5bn.
Image: Westminster Dredging is set to complete port entrance improvements at Aberdeen Harbour by early October. Photo: courtesy of Aberdeen City Council.