Energy/ Business Services:
A seminar this week highlighted the opportunities for the Highlands and Islands in the oil & gas industry, as outlined by noted petroleum economist Professor Alex Kemp in his keynote presentation. I was able to help discuss particular actions that will help realise some of these significant opportunities in our area. Also this week Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP announced the creation of a task force on oil & gas in the Highlands and Islands with industry body Energy North.
Subsea 7 this week successfully launched the 70th pipeline bundle to be constructed at its Wester base in Caithness. Subsea 7 has invested significantly in its Caithness facilities recently. The 6.2km long pipeline was constructed for Total, and is further testament to the skills of the workforce under general manager Willie Watt. The Wester site, with its 7.8km length, can handle some of the world’s largest moveable structures.
It is encouraging to see Caithness Renewables winning work from Eyemouth Harbour Trust in the Scottish Borders. The company will work with the Trust on marketing plans to help attract business from offshore wind developments off the south-east coast of Scotland. http://www.caithnessrenewables.co.uk/newsfromcaithnessrenewables.html and Scrabster Harbour Trust has taken on a new staff member with financial support from CNSRP partner Highland Council’s Employment Grant scheme and with advice from Business Gateway http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Scrabster-Harbour-takes-on-trainee-thanks-to-funding-09072013.htm
Tourism, food & drink:
Tomorrow (Saturday 13th July) sees the next in the series of events around independent retailers’ month, with “Ladies Day” in Thurso. The day will see various beauty demonstrations in local businesses and an alternative fashion show, whilst 31st July will see a number of crafts events in shops and Caithness Horizons, with a focus on food & drink. Caithness Chamber of Commerce continues to work with a number of the town centre businesses, and more information is available at http://www.facebook.com/thursotown Also good to see coverage in the local press this week for Thurso’s innovative “Pop-up Shop” – find out more about this venture at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-thurso-pop-up-shop/372373696218635
The cruise ship Amadea visited Scrabster today (Friday), and the Highland Council-supported shuttle bus service into Thurso town centre was again in operation for those passengers not taking part in organised shore tours. It was good to see visitors enjoying the warm sunny weather ashore, before the ship continued on to Reykjavik in Iceland. Cruise ship business continues to be important to the area: the Amadea is the latest in a series of ships due in Scrabster this year.
Will Clark’s piece in this week’s John O’ Groat Journal highlights the ongoing growth of JPL Shellfish, whose rebranded retail presence in Thurso is emblematic of the company’s global export success. With the company now employing a number of staff in Caithness and exporting to Europe, the USA, China and Singapore it provides another signal that the area’s food & drink sector is a significant contributor to the economy. The company’s growth plans have been supported by HIE and by the NDA-funded North Highland Regeneration Fund.
As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week: