The Port of Galway is no stranger to servicing the oil and gas industry and was the port of choice for Elf and Total in the late 1970s, when activity in the Porcupine Basin was under way through the chosen operator, Ocean Inscape Ltd. The port accommodated up to seven supply vessels in the town quays at any one occasion throughout that busy period.
What has changed since then? Well, the port company has developed an industrial park adjacent to the port of some 40 acres which provides large secure lay down yards for pipes and drilling mud and storage for all ancillary equipment necessary for meeting the demands of offshore exploration. This land bank of port-related activity is a mere 400m from the quays. Tied in with this has been the increased level of seismic and research ship calls at Galway which undertake such surveys offshore in the early days of the industry.
The Port of Galway is customer-focused and its Head of Port Operations, Captain Brian Sheridan, has a wide knowledge and experience of all aspects maritime but his expertise lies in the offshore industry. Captain Sheridan’s career took him to Africa where he was Oil Installation Manager in a marginal oil and gas field off the coast of Congo before heading up port operations at Galway as harbour master. Today, Brian also fulfils the role of the port company’s Commercial Manager and we see this as being an important factor in marrying up the interface of production offshore with port side operations.
The port labour force is directly managed and controlled by the port company as the sole stevedore. The port is able to offer unparalleled labour options which best suit the customer. The rationalisation of the dock labour force in August 2002 has positioned the port to be the most flexible port along the western seaboard. This flexibility allows the port to meet the requirements of our customers and to be able to respond to the ever-changing nature of the offshore industry.
The port company is also able to offer helipad solutions at the port whenever necessary while more comprehensive heliport facilities exist at Galway Airport, some 8km from the port. The port is straddled neatly between two international airports (Shannon and Knock) giving expanded options to connect to continental Europe and the USA.
The application to extend the port is currently with An Bord Pleanála and is following due process. This new infrastructure will allow unhindered sea and shore access and is planned for completion in 2018. This port extension will offer even greater flexibility in how business at the port is conducted.
At Galway, we believe that the ocean is the next frontier and we are preparing the groundwork now to be in the starting blocks to be able to ‘harness our ocean wealth’ in a sustainable way, an environmentally sound way and in an economic way that raises the GVA of the Atlantic Economic Corridor that stretches from Kerry to Derry.
The success of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2009 and again in 2012 is evidence of the ‘can do’ approach of the port company and highlights that the key elements of City Hall and other state agencies can be co-ordinated to get projects over the line in Galway. At the Port of Galway, we can meet the demands of the oil and gas industry.
Port of Galway
Tel: +353 91 561 874