Stena invests $310m in new ferry terminal.
SWEDISH ferry operator Stena Line has announced a £200m ($310m) investment programme to build a new greenfield ferry terminal in Loch Ryan, Scotland to serve its routes to Northern Ireland.
Scotland"s parliament recently approved a Harbour Empowerment Order for the project, giving the greenlight for its construction and conferring on Stena statutory harbour powers.
Nigel Tilson, Stena"s UK and Ireland communications manager, told Lloyd"s List that the funds would be used to both build the terminal and acquire two ships.
?The terminal is going to cost around £80m, and the other £120m is for two vessels to operate the services out of the port,? he said. ?The search for these two vessels is currently underway, but we"ve got 20 months until the port is built so there"s no great rush.?
Mr Tilson said that the ferries were likely to take both passengers and freight, and added that financing for the project should be completed soon.
?Negotiations on that are currently underway, but it will be part-financed by Stena and another party. We expect to be able to make an announcement by April at the latest,? he said.
The new facility, located at Old House Point, some two miles north of the port of Cairnryan, is due to open for business in autumn 2011, and represents the final chapter in a saga that stretches back almost seven years.
In 2003, Stena notified local authorities that it wanted to leave its existing terminal at Stranraer, which is hemmed in by the local town, and had identified Old House Point as a possible site on which to build a new terminal.
However, a few months later this was dropped in favour of a partnership with rival P&O Ferries to expand P&O"s terminal at the port of Cairnryan, from where P&O operates its services to the port of Larne in Northern Ireland.
The two companies formed the Port of Cairnryan Ltd, which was abruptly disbanded in 2007 after suffering escalating and ?prohibitive? costs during continual redrafting of the plans.
This retreat threw into doubt local authority plans for a wide-ranging re-development of the Stranraer waterfront, especially after Stena indicated that it was considering staying in Stranraer.
Speaking at last week"s announcement, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: ?I am delighted to welcome the decision to approve this project and Stena Line"s commitment and continuing contribution to the Scottish economy.
?The relocation of the port to the new Loch Ryan Port will also aid tourism with faster crossings between Scotland and Northern Ireland and help the regeneration of Stranraer as a major marine leisure area. This is a significant day for transport and investment in Scotland.?
Stena said the new port will reduce the Belfast-Stranraer crossing time significantly from its current level of just under three hours.
?Even if we retained the current vessels on the route that transit time would be reduced by at least 25 minutes,? Mr Tilson added.
The Lock Ryan development mirrors a £37m investment made by Stena in its new VT4 ro-ro terminal in the port of Belfast, which was opened in mid-2008, and Dan Sten Olsson, Stena Line chairman, added: ?The investment will provide Scotland with a first class port facility which underlines and enhances the port"s prominence as the third largest gateway in the UK.
?The link between Scotland and Northern Ireland provides a huge number of benefits for both countries.
?Tourism and freight business between these two areas has seen significant growth in recent years and despite the current difficult trading conditions, we are confident that an investment of this magnitude will pay dividends over the medium to long term.?