Sep 152017

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

Sir Clive Woodward and Scott Kerr Mintra Group CEO.

The global energy industry can learn from training techniques used in the professional sports arena, according to rugby World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward.

Leading energy industry training provider, Mintra Group, hosted Sir Clive at its Aberdeen training facility on Carden Place for the company’s Raising the Bar event during Offshore Europe on Wednesday, September 6.

Sir Clive, whose theories and techniques helped conquer the rugby world in 2003 and drive Team GB to their greatest success to date at the London 2012 Olympics, addressed more than 100 guests about what makes a champion and how to create a winning culture.

During his presentation, Sir Clive covered themes including the ability to learn, performance under pressure and how marginal gains can lead to success.

Sir Clive said:

“The energy industry has rightly focused on training and competency solutions to improve performance and develop winning teams at all levels.

“Investing in these areas can make a significant impact on the success of any business and it’s clear to me that the sector could learn a lot from what is being done in the professional sports training arena where we are constantly pushing to improve.

“Even small improvements add up, and these marginal gains can make a big difference for companies looking to stand out in a competitive market.”

Mintra provides eLearning courses as well as training and competency management solutions to the global oil and gas and maritime industries.

Scott Kerr, CEO of Mintra Group, said:

“We were absolutely delighted that Sir Clive joined us for our Offshore Europe event in Aberdeen which proved very popular with guests.

“It was very interesting to hear about Sir Clive’s experience in training and performance improvement in sport and many of the techniques he highlighted could be adopted by the energy industry to improve performance, ensure competency and build a winning team.”

Mintra Group is owned by private equity firm, The Riverside Company, and has Norwegian roots. The company is a result of a recent merger between Mintra Trainingportal and OCS HR.

Mintra Trainingportal was established in Oslo in 1997, and specialised in tailor-made eLearning courses for the energy and petroleum sector.

OCS HR was founded in Bergen in 1983, and has since then grown into a leading international provider of HR, payroll and crew management for the offshore and maritime sector. Mintra Group has offices in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Aberdeen, Dubai and Singapore.

Sep 152017

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia Ltd.

Rigmar’s rope access team conducting cable stay inspections on behalf of Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC), on the new Queensferry Crossing” – Photo courtesy of Transport Scotland

Leading global inspection and maintenance firm, Rigmar Services, has completed a six-month, seven-figure installation on one of Scotland’s largest and most iconic infrastructure projects in a generation.

The firm, which is headquartered in Aberdeen, was contracted to complete the installation of the 288 cable stays on the three main towers of the new Queensferry Crossing, over the Firth of Forth in Edinburgh.

The £2.5m project was the largest to date for Rigmar’s civils division, which launched three years ago when the firm realised the potential to diversify its skills and expertise into new markets.

Working 24/7, Rigmar’s specialist access team was deployed to the Queensferry Crossing project with a peak labour force of 50 multi-skilled technicians, which ramped up from February, enabling the completion of the project in time for the official opening.

The team worked at maximum heights of 210m above the water line at high tide, utilising their rope access, rigging and mechanical knowledge to support the final construction of the structure.

In addition to the primary cable stay workscope, Rigmar’s rope access rescue team also carried out perpetual safety audits of the work site and provided 24/7 rescue support on the project.

Completing the main contract, from initial evaluation and safety audits, through to project planning, mobilisation and installation, the firm has recorded more than 55,000 hours on site with zero lost time accidents or incidents.

Rigmar Services specialist access manager, Steve Bunting, who has overseen the project throughout, said:

“Working on such a prestigious project has given us superb visibility in the civils industry and fully confirmed our commitment to this market.

“Throughout this project our work scopes continued to increase as the client gained confidence in our OPITO/NVQ qualified riggers, and their ability to review engineering drawings and generate lift plans to deliver installation and decommissioning scopes. With our vast rope access experience, we are focused on providing complete solutions for any access challenges.

“It has been a remarkable project for the Rigmar team to be involved in and it’s been an honour working the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) and their vast network of highly experienced sub-contractors on this once in a lifetime project.” 

Alexei Bond, principal engineer for HOCHTIEF (UK) Construction, part of the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors consortium, said:

“To meet the challenging programme, Rigmar provided a high number of skilled rope access personnel to work at night, allowing work to be completed simultaneously on all available work faces without impacting on other critical activities. 

“The Rigmar site team took responsibility for ensuring that all the quality inspections and documentations were completed to the required standard, they also provided a detailed daily report allowing the progress of the work to be closely monitored. Throughout, there were no safety related incidents, which is a considerable achievement given the nature of the work and the extremely exposed work location.”

Rigmar Rope Access Technician, Zeff Marlow, inspecting cable stays on the new Queensferry Crossing,

The Queensferry Crossing is the second high-profile contract that Rigmar’s Specialist Access Division has worked on in the past 18 months.

The firm provided expert engineering and access services for the construction of NATO’s new headquarters in Brussels in 2014/2015, utilising its QuikDeck® system, which is a temporary suspended access platform, with an installation build process that is up to 80% faster than traditional scaffold, with significantly higher load capacity.

Mr Bunting added:

“Working on the NATO headquarters, which was the largest infrastructure project in Europe at the time, gave Rigmar Services the credibility to secure the Queensferry Crossing contract. We have also recently completed a bridgecontract in Wales and are about to begin using Quikdeck® on another bridge project in the Scottish Highlands. The specialist access division is currently delivering a significant contribution to the group’s turnover and we are continuing to enhance our service offering across a variety of markets.” 

Following the official opening of the Queensferry Crossing by HM The Queen on Monday 4 September, the bridge will open full time for traffic on Thursday, 7 September 2017. 

Rigmar’s specialist access division currently has a number of projects in sight for 2018 including work scopes on stadiums, warehouses and piers, in addition to on-going bridge works, including continued under deck work on the Queensferry Crossing.

Rigmar Services is a division of the Rigmar Group, which provides asset integrity, fabric maintenance and marine services. In addition to the head office in Aberdeen, Rigmar has offices in Canada, West Africa, Abu Dhabi and Singapore.

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Sep 022017

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

Rugby World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward will give a talk in Aberdeen during Offshore Europe on the importance of training and improvement to a successful business. Leading energy industry training provider, Mintra Group, will host the invitation only event, Raising the Bar, at its Carden Place training facility on Wednesday, September 6.

Sir Clive’s theories and techniques helped conquer the rugby world in 2003 and drive Team GB to their greatest success to date at the London 2012 Olympics.

He will speak to more than 100 guests about what makes a champion and how to create a winning culture, and cover themes including the ability to learn, performance under pressure and how marginal gains can lead to major success.

Sir Clive is looking forward to coming to Aberdeen for Offshore Europe and meeting the team at Mintra and their guests.

He said:

“The global energy industry has rightly focused on training and competency solutions to improve performance and develop winning teams.

“Investing in these areas can make a significant impact on the success of any business and I’m very pleased to share my knowledge and expertise.”

Mintra provides eLearning courses as well as training and competency management solutions to the global oil and gas and maritime industries.

Scott Kerr, CEO of Mintra Group, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted to have Sir Clive join us for our Offshore Europe event and I’m sure he’ll be a very popular draw for the business community.

“Sir Clive’s experience in training and performance improvement is a perfect fit for us and it promises to be a very interesting evening to learn more about how he has used his coaching and training techniques and developed them in the business arena.”

Mintra Group is owned by private equity firm, The Riverside Company, and has Norwegian roots. The company is a result of a recent merger between Mintra Trainingportal and OCS HR.

Mintra Trainingportal was established in Oslo in 1997, and specialised in tailor-made eLearning courses for the energy and petroleum sector.

OCS HR was founded in Bergen in 1983, and has since then grown into a leading international provider of HR, payroll and crew management for the offshore and maritime sector. Mintra Group has offices in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Aberdeen, Dubai and Singapore.

Aug 202017

With thanks to Donna Ross, Senior Account Manager, Frasermedia Ltd.

Thursday, April 4th 2014, Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Motive Offshore, Image Library and stock photography, for website and PR
(Photo Ross Johnston/Newsline Scotland)

With signs that the oil and gas market starting to recover, it is more important than ever for companies to ensure skilled staff are in place to plug the looming skills shortage.
For leading offshore services firm Motive Offshore, which is headquartered in Boyndie near Banff, training the future talent of tomorrow is extremely important and the company has continued to employ a high number of apprentices over the years.

Providing a first-class service means that Motive is extremely passionate about developing its team to ensure that its clients always receive a high level of work allowing them to meet their business objectives.  

The firm, which has a skilled workforce of 60 members of staff across its marine equipment manufacture and rental and fabrication divisions, has continued to roll out its apprenticeship scheme to new members of staff.

Motive Offshore directors, James Gregg, and Dave Acton, both started their careers as apprentices and have played an instrumental role in continuing to develop strong links with North East Scotland College, ITCA, Skills Development Scotland and local secondary schools.

Today, the firm employs two apprentice fabricators; two craft apprentices; an apprentice fitter and an apprentice machinist.

The latest intake follow in the footsteps of four previous apprentices who all gained full time employment with Motive on completion of their apprenticeships, as hydraulic technician, fabricator, machinist and fitter.

Apprentices at Motive aren’t purely workshop based, assistant accountant Lauren Stronach also completed an apprenticeship at the firm and plans are now in place to add a finance apprentice to the team.

Currently Motive is also advertising for four new craft apprentices and intends to fill these positions by the end of summer.

James Gregg, said:

“At Motive we recognise the importance of investing in continuous learning and development for all ages. We see our apprentice programme as a vital link in the succession planning process and an important step in building a stronger business.

“Apprenticeships are a valuable asset to a company and the training that apprentices at Motive receive gives them first hand, on the job experience.

“As the oil and gas industry starts to pick up again, companies need to become proactive in providing job opportunities. Not only will this improve employability in an incredibly difficult market, it will also benefit the business and ultimately the economy of the North-east.”

Jun 082017

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

It is in the heart of the city and as one of the busiest ports in Britain, has more than 6,500 vessel arrivals each year and handles around four million tonnes of cargo.

As the centre of activity for the offshore oil and gas industry’s marine support operations in North-west Europe, Aberdeen Harbour is a crucial thoroughfare.

Ensuring the port is operating according to the marine safety management system is a regulatory requirement, and a job that is undertaken every three years by Keith Falconer of Seacroft Marine Consultants (pictured).

A marine specialist with the company, which is based at The Roundhouse, Keith also acts as the Designated Person for the Aberdeen Harbour Board.

He is tasked with providing independent assurance to Aberdeen Harbour Board that their Marine Safety Management System is fit for purpose and that it complies with the requirements of the Port Marine Safety code.

He said:

“Every three years the Duty Holder, in this case the Board of Aberdeen Harbour, is required to inform the UK Government via the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that they are compliant with the Port Marine Safety Code.

“The Port Marine Safety Code is in many ways similar to the Highway Code, it may not be law in itself, however breaching it is not advisable.”

The Code is broken down into four main sections covering everything safety related to the operation of a port, and the process undertaken by Keith to ensure compliance is a continual one carried out over the course of a year.

With more than thirty-seven years at sea, the majority of which was spent in the offshore industry, Keith’s experience is invaluable in this role, which he has held since 2012.

Keith added:

“This position is a privilege to hold and one that I enjoy tremendously. Aberdeen is a fantastic port to operate in and plays a vital role in the commercial success of the city.

“Being able to utilise my skills in the industry in this way is great and the perfect fit with my work at Seacroft.”

Launched in 1995 by Captain Roderick MacSween, Seacroft has been owned and operated by the founder’s daughter Jennifer Fraser and technical director Michael Cowlam since 2004.

With a team of 14 staff and more than 70 consultants, the company has built its reputation in the marine assurance and consultancy sphere.

Seacroft Marine Consultants’ expertise includes marine assurance packages, OVID and CMID inspections, marine warranty work, rig move services, International Safety Management audits, safety audits and inspections, incident investigation and dynamic positioning assurance as well as simulator training in ship handling and bridge team management and specialist recovery and rescue assurance services.

For further information on the full range of Seacroft Marine Consultants services please visit

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Feb 112016

By Duncan Harley

Oil Strike coverAs oil prices remain volatile and the UK government records its first losses in 40 years from North Sea oil and gas production, Aberdeen geologist Mike Shepherd has penned a classic.

An industry insider, Mike has produced a highly accessible and non-technical account of how the North Sea energy boom took shape, the ups and downs of the industry and the story of the people who made it all happen.

In the true tradition of all good writers, Mike writes about what he knows best, in this case the search for Black Gold.

While on a geological field trip to Skye in 1978, Mike had witnessed first hand the construction of the Ninian Central platform.

Fabricated in Loch Kishorn and weighing in at an impressive 601,000 tons, the concrete and steel structure was reckoned at the time to be the largest man made structure ever to be moved across the surface of the earth.

“The North Sea proved to be a new frontier for the oil companies … they had been offshore before … but never in waters quite so stormy or so deep,” writes Mike.

The huge discoveries in the Forties Field in 1970, the share price crash of Black Monday 1987, and the inevitable influence of big money are discussed in detail. The effects of taxation, international politics and equity negotiations feature alongside the human cost in terms of accidents, including of course Piper Alpha

The decline in North Sea reserves as a strategic resource for the nation comes under close scrutiny. Mike predicts that production will finally cease around 2050 after which a massive clean up operation costing around £31.5 billion will be required.

In a chapter simply titled ‘Aberdeen’, Mike looks at the social and economic effects of boom and bust on the Granite City. Infrastructure including both the airport and the harbour initially needed urgent investment to serve and secure the initial 500 or so oil-related companies who set up in the city between 1970 and 1977.

Amazingly in 1972:

“The airport was quite basic and the arrival/departure building was an old Nissan Hut. One end was the bar and the other end was the tickets and seats. The same bloke did both jobs.”

With a foreword by Diane Morgan who comments:

“Given the depth of its subject matter it is an amazingly readable book”,

this publication is essential reading both amongst those of us who strive to understand the phenomenon of oil, and also those of us who strive to extract that Black Gold.

Oil Strike North Sea (187pp) is published in hardback by Luath Press at £20

ISBN 978-1-910745-21-2

First published in the February 2016 edition of Leopard Magazine.

Aug 282015

A new book Oil Strike North Sea will be published on the 7th September. It is an overview and history of the search for oil and gas in the North Sea, something author Mike Shepherd has been actively involved with since 1980 and several of his own experiences are described in the book. Mike shares with Voice readers how the book came about, and his belief that Aberdeen Was Short-Changed Over North Sea Oil.

Oil Strike cover I had cooperated with Diane Morgan on her recent book, Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens. Diane asked me to contribute one of the chapters in the book detailing the economic background to the abortive city garden project.

Working so closely with a professional author such as Diane had inspired me to write my own book and the North Sea oil industry was an obvious topic, particularly as not many non-technical books have been written on it.

Diane very graciously provided an introduction to my book and seems to have enjoyed reading it going by her comments.

I want to concentrate here on one small aspect and this is part of the chapter dealing with Aberdeen.

Although I’m Aberdonian born and have lived in the city for most of my life, the details of my research for this section astonished me when I realised its significance – it became clear that the Aberdeen area has been massively short-changed by both national governments over the last 40 years.

Let’s summarise the case: The tax take from North Sea oil and gas is now more than £300 billion. The amount provided by both the UK and Scottish national governments to support onshore North Sea oil infrastructure in the Aberdeen area – almost nothing. So who paid for the onshore infrastructure then? We did.

The funding was largely provided out of our local rates and council taxes. I’ll quote from the book, Running the Granite City Local Government in Aberdeen 1975-1996 (Davidson, K and Fairley, J  2000, Scottish Cultural Press), because I am not sure anyone would believe the figures if I merely cited them:

“The withdrawal of government support for industry meant that the public sector effort was primarily that of local authorities. Local authority estimates suggested that between 1975 and the early 1990s council expenditure on oil-related developments was well over £100 million per year throughout the Grampian Region.”

Check that, over £100 million per year. It’s ironic that several other regions in the UK have directly benefitted from North Sea oil revenues but not Aberdeen. The Shetland Isles, having gained revenue from the Sullom Voe oil terminal, have accrued an oil fund of over £400 million in two separate trusts; the Orkneys likewise have an oil fund of about £200 million.

Elsewhere, as a consequence of the agreement on licence boundaries in 1966, Northern Ireland gets 2.5 per cent of oil and gas royalties and until 1991, the Isle of Man received 0.1 per cent. Yet, an initiative by Grampian Regional Council to apply rates to offshore oil platforms was stopped by the UK government.

How did this situation happen?

Aberdeen M ShepherdHere is the explanation given in my book. When the North Sea started up in the 1970s, the Labour Party in government were keen to try and get as much of the industry as possible relocated to the Glasgow area.

There was an under-employed workforce in Glasgow that could easily adapt to the engineering skills required for North Sea oil, whereas the Northeast of Scotland was deemed likely to be overwhelmed both environmentally and socially by the oil industry.

They didn’t want the oil industry here. Despite for instance, the establishment of the new British National Oil Company headquarters in Glasgow, the oil companies in any case decided to move to Aberdeen.

Maggie Thatcher’s Conservative Party took over government in 1979.

It wasn’t their policy to give regional funding to support private enterprise even if the case was well-deserved; the Aberdeen area was considered remote and politically irrelevant for their purposes. A large proportion of the oil revenues was used to support a reduction in the top rate of income tax which in turn fuelled house price rises in England.

When the Scottish government turned up in the 90s, nothing much changed.

The political central of gravity in Scotland is the Central Belt and Aberdeen is almost as remote to Holyrood as it is to Westminster. Witness the case of the funding for the Aberdeen bypass by the Scottish government. In an extraordinary decision, both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council are each expected to fund 9.5 per cent of the costs, something neither council can afford given their debts.

Where does this leave Aberdeen? What happens once the oil industry leaves the area? Despite all the guff about city centre regeneration, Aberdeen’s big problem is its transport links with the rest of the country and its industrial base outside of North Sea oil activities. Aberdeen is just as remote now as it was before the oil industry came.

The UK’s motorway network stops at Perth and the roads north of Aberdeen are a joke; they have not received the investment they deserve. Even the railway between Aberdeen and Dundee is single track for a short section south of Montrose and this leads to a major rail bottleneck. There has been a lot of jaw-jaw about improving this section but it has never happened.

North Sea oil will leave a legacy to Aberdeen. While it has lasted, much of Aberdeen’s native industry has gone. One paper mill remains, the Crombie cloth mills have shut and Aberdeen’s two shipbuilding yards are no more. Aberdeen also used to hold one of the UK’s largest fishing fleets. Over the years Aberdeen has become largely a one-horse town and that horse is the energy industry.

A fairly obvious move would have been for the Scottish government to have promoted the area for renewables, but this hasn’t happened to any major extent. I see this as a major shortcoming, as there is an obvious crossover between the engineering skills of the oil and gas industry and renewables.

What is Aberdeen’s future? It should primarily be as a center for renewables but this would require a change in policy from the Scottish government in order to preferentially commit resources here. Some in our local business community see tourism as a growth area for the city even though a unique selling point for the city, it’s distinctive architecture and building stone, is being increasingly blighted by soul-less modern developments.

What is clear and has been clear for almost a decade is that there is a concerted need for a discussion on the future of Aberdeen. This should focus on funding, regional transport links and to promote a future Aberdeen as a centre for Scotland’s renewable energy industry.

The book launch for ‘Oil Strike North Sea’ is at Waterstones book shop in Union Street, 7pm on Wednesday 9th September.

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Jun 052015

With thanks to Cate Gordon, Tricker PR.

Francesca DelDinAn engineer who has played a pivotal role in delivering a major North Sea project for Ramboll Oil & Gas has been recognised as one of the top young engineering talents in Europe. Francesca Del Din won second place in the Young Professional of the Year awards run by the EFCA (European Federation of Engineering Consultancy Associations).

Francesca (27) received the accolade for her role as engineering manager for Statoil’s Gina Krog Field Development project in the Norwegian sector, where Ramboll is carrying out the design of the subsea pipelines.

The field – one of Statoil’s major developments – is situated 230km south-west of Stavanger and is due to start production in 2017.

Francesca was praised by the panel of judges for her impressive technical skills and ability to lead a team, and for achieving so much at a very young age. The complex Gina Krog contract covers five sub-projects – one of them being the detailed design of a 27 km and 20″ gas export pipeline which will be routed to the Sleipner A platform.

Tim Martin, managing director of Ramboll Oil & Gas in Aberdeen, says Francesca’s drive and enthusiasm is typical of the Ramboll team. He said:

“As a company we are committed to fostering and nurturing the very best new talent, and so it is very pleasing to see a young member of our team being honoured in this way.

“The Gina Krog project in which Francesca has been involved is relatively complex, and therefore exceptional engineering and leadership skills are key to its success. We are incredibly lucky to have people like Francesca within the Ramboll Oil & Gas team.”

There was further success for the Ramboll group in the EFCA competition, as first place was taken by another one of their engineers. Anne Maloney (31) won the award for her role as project manager for the Queensferry Crossing Project – one of the most extensive construction projects in Scotland in recent times.

Ramboll Oil & Gas is a business unit within the Ramboll Group. With more than four decades of experience, the company is a well-established, independent and highly regarded provider of offshore and onshore engineering consultancy services for the oil and gas industry. Today, Ramboll has offices in the USA, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, India, Denmark, Norway and UK, and employs close to 1,000 specialists.


Oct 312014

A cheerful article in Aberdeen’s free sheet, the Aberdeen Citizen, appeared on the 23rd of October.  The piece proclaims that plans to take over Nigg Bay for industrialisation “have today been welcomed by local residents.” 

Suzanne Kelly, knowing full well the strength of local opposition to this scheme, looks at the two residents quoted in the piece, and finds the Citizen’s ‘happy’ conclusion somewhat wanting.

rainbow torry 1 apr 06 2

Rainbow viewed across the harbour from Torry

The Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, scandal-hit again lately over millions given to companies that its board has shares in, and Aberdeen’s Harbour Board want to take over Nigg Bay and significant other greenbelt locations in Torry and
They rejected plans to renovate brownfield sites north of the harbour and want Nigg Bay because it is the least expensive option.

They are also worried that other Scottish, or worse, European harbours may expand instead, thereby allowing other communities to gain from shipping instead of just Aberdeen.

All of this is spelled out in the booklet the Harbour Board is dishing out to the public at recent consultations. The booklet is written as if the scheme to take Nigg Bay out of public use is a fait accompli.

It should be noted that the public was never asked to consider the options. The one option we are having foisted on us is to give up the Torry coastline and land. That means giving up our already threatened wildlife and our recreation areas, and it means turning this community into a completely industrialised area.

It is a rare resident of Torry who can be delighted at increased pollution: marine fuel is not refined, and is a serious pollutant. Or at the prospect of increased road traffic , and loss of amenities and environment. So, how did the Citizen come up with a headline and an article so favourable to the city’s business interests?

You can understand a booklet written by supporters of a scheme being slanted, but should the Citizen have produced a more objective, honest piece than the one it printed? According to Aberdeen Journals Ltd., we are happy about this. Well, two of us are happy, anyway. Alan Reid, described as being of the Torry Heritage Group is quoted, and so is another person, Tinotendra Okere.

Many people just glance at headlines, and assume something in print is accurate. This is exactly what a propagandist relies on. The article talks about everything, except air quality, loss of land, increasing industrialisation, increased lorry traffic in Torry, loss of wildlife and wildlife habitat, and further urban sprawl. We are meant to be happy for money and jobs creation, and anything else is a secondary concern.

Alan Reid is interested in the area’s heritage, that is clear (seemingly the built environment is more important to him than the natural heritage, as he is happy to consign Nigg Bay and its two SSSIs to history for potential job creation). He is entitled to his opinion.  The article sees fit to mention that he is part of Torry Heritage (one of 1600 members on the Facebook page), but to be clear – he does not speak for the group.   The Citizen doesn’t tell us about Tinotendra Okere’s interest,s though it tells us about Reid’s background.  If Reid’s background is relevant, than surely so is Okere’s.  Researching what her interests may be, it seems Ms Okere may indeed be quite happy about the industrial expansion plan…

‘Happy’ Tinotendra Okere, your average Torry resident who…

… is a journalist and Director of Aberdeen Geophysical Services Limited, a company formed at the end of August this year.


Ms Okere seems to have been involved in many interesting, worthwhile activities and charities. When it comes to the harbour issue, could she possibly have an interest? Perhaps this is just a ‘happy’ coincidence for Aberdeen Citizen’s reporter, but surely one journalist would identify themselves if another journalist approached them for an interview?

Surely it is relevant for the reader to know the happy camper in question is one.

Aberdeen Geophysical Services Limited does not list the nature of its work on its Companies House listing; but from further internet searches, it would seem this company is involved in marine geophysical services:  perhaps building in Nigg Bay would be a very happy opportunity for them?

Ms Okere describes herself on Linked In as :-

“I am a focused, self-motivated and determined information and communications professional with more than four years experience. I have been instrumental in the formulation and revision of internal and external communication strategies which have yielded excellent results.

“I have also played an active role in sourcing and contacting potential partners and donors which were key in the success of specific programme areas. Am an excellent and insightful communicator, with experience working in multi-cultural environments and clients of various calibres.”

It seems fair to wonder, given her communication and strategy skills, coupled with her business venture, whether she may have an interest in the project going ahead. It is a pity the Aberdeen Citizen article didn’t find time to mention any of this, which undoubtedly its reporter would have learnt as part of her thorough interview at the time.

Alan Reid – maybe not so happy after all? The Citizen quotes Alan as being very pleased by the proposal:

“If it is going to get people jobs and bring money into the area, then it is a good thing.  Creating jobs in this day and age is the most important thing…. [it is] vital the development preserved the heritage and history of the area… I hope people still have access to the recreational facilities in the area.

“People should still be able to go out and have picnics by the burn for example. Nothing should be blocked off by gates or security.” – Alan Reid quote, Aberdeen Citizen 23rd October 2014

Alan later advised that he was questioned at the Union Square public display. From his quotes it seems he hasn’t had time to digest everything fully as there will be fenced off areas, it is not just a question of a bit of jetty jutting into the Bay. Aberdeen is not at a loss for either jobs or money and compared to many other parts of the UK is quite strong.

torry thistles aug 04The harbour will be made deeper, with inevitable consequences for marine life. Further areas of land are wanted, the Bay itself will be out of bounds for people, and the whole coast will be lost for wildlife and recreation. Two Sites of Special Scientific interest (SSSIs) will be compromised. The presentation booklet tells you some of this, but it does not tell you about the SSSIs and wildlife does not get much attention.

Alan can be forgiven for not digesting the issues on the spot.

Here is what Alan wrote when asked about his position on a Facebook thread:-

“.. as far as I know the bit at the bottom of St Fitticks Road is the area where they will jut out into the sea to the south of that on the Cove Road will be widened much about the same along Greyhope Road. The back bit where the church and burn runs should be okay I know what you’re saying and I agree but when the wheels start rolling the decisions are made.

“You know how the council are, look what happened to the Victoria Road school project once they make up their mind we don’t count. We need to vote these lot out, they don’t care about Torry” – Facebook 24 October

So as well-intentioned as Mr Reid is towards Torry, this statement is hardly a rolling endorsement from a ‘happy’ resident.

The Citizen could have asked him whether or not he had read all the materials; they could also have looked on Facebook where they will find some in favour, and many people against the plans. Here are some recent Facebook quotes; ‘happiness’ is not exactly the word that best sums these feelings up:

“I did notice at last week’s meeting the Harbour guy said that the ‘majority’ of Torry people were ‘happy’ with the plans for the harbour & the work it would promote. There was no mention of the beach, coastline, wildlife or the increase in road traffic unfortunately.  Does this mean the majority of the Torry people are unaware of these issues? [quite possibly]

“Me [sic] personally thinks it would be a great benefit for the city!  Nobody really uses that beach anymore anyway”

“I read the same article In the Evening Express. In my opinion I think the expansion would be a disaster to the beautiful scenery away from the bustle of the harbour. We don’t have a lot of natural scenery left and we should preserve/improve on what we have. But in all honesty I don’t think it will matter to the city of our views as Aberdeen has and always will be driven by money…”

“No one cared what Torriers thought of closing a school or demolishing a landmark, this will be no different, it will come down to whose pockets are lined the thickest.”

“The Torry beach is always full of people at the first hint of sunshine!”

“You don’t need to be up a mountain to enjoy the view of the mountain just as you don’t need to sit on the beach to enjoy the scenery. I think it will be a sad day for the city when they destroy this natural Bay Area.”

“They need to sort at god awful stench if they want to entice cruise ships tho! I remember the days of the ice cream shop at the Bay, picking Buckies, camping there etc Harbour Board have spent millions already on this new project, so this ‘Consulting’ with local residents is utter nonsense!!”

Maybe it was the case that the Aberdeen Citizen interviewed scores of people, all of whom were happy. This happiness is clearly not universal.

In due course plans will be lodged that the public can object to. There seems to be no shortage of grounds to do so.

It should be noted the Harbour Board are regularly attending Torry Community Council meetings to update the council on developments: this is all well and good, but since these updates are made by those who want to take over Nigg Bay and several other swathes of land, let’s hope Torry Community Council is actively seeking representatives to update the council on the other side of the coin.

  • No doubt SEPA, with offices on the coastline in question, will raise all the environmental objections and take an active part in protecting Torry’s built (lighthouse) and natural (bay, land, wildlife, landscape) heritage from pollution and industrialisation. We will see.Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 212012

By Bob Smith. 

The Donald’s noo bin telt
Yer advert wi div deplore
Showin some rottin win turbines
Fit warna near Scotia’s shore

The advert wis misleadin
Says fowk fae the ASA
The photo wis o turbines
In 50th state o theUSA

Noo Trumpie he protested
Sayin we telt far t’wis teen
The affa sma print in the advert
Suggestit it wisna near Aiberdeen

Na Na min said the billies
Fa look intae sic like capers
Ye shudna hae pit it in
The bliddy local papers

Dinna dare use it ony mair
Weel nae in it’s preesint form
Use photos of turbine types
Nearer tae Scotland’s norm

Noo iss begs the simple question
Fit wye the P&J printed the ad
There is advertisin standards
Tae be adhered tae in iss land

Nae doot the auld excuse
Eence mair will be trottit oot
We took the advert in good faith
An it brocht us some mair loot

So fit noo Donald we maun ask
Tae the ASA wull ye buckle?
Ye dinna like bein telt fit tae dee
An gittin rappit ower the knuckles

Iss turbines row is biggin up tae be
A fecht wi Eck, Trump’s auld bosom pal
Wull it be  a showdoon at dawn
Like the “Gunfecht at the OK Corral”

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012