Angry denial that Montrose ‘missed the boat’

STATEMENTS by Montrose councillor Mark Salmond about the history of the town’s relationship with the oil and gas industry have been greeted with disbelief by Mr John Aitken, who writes the Review’s ‘Harbour Lines’ feature, and who has a deep knowledge of the town and its industry.

Mr Salmond began by calling for a super summit to maximise Montrose’s potential, with particular regard to the south side regeneration scheme.

So far, so good, but the comment to which Mr Aitken has taken exception is as follows: “To a great extent Montrose and Angus missed the boat from the perspective of off-shore oil and gas last time round, the people in power at that time perhaps didn’t realise the significance of the oil boom and what the area could have got out of it.”

Mr Aitken quoted the above passage and retorted: “Where has he been all this time? In this connection I would strongly recommend he reads previous and also quite recent editions of local and regional papers covering the past four decades in Montrose, Dundee and Aberdeen reference libraries.

“Montrose welcomed its first offshore supply vessel to the old Wet Dock in June, 1971, the first such arrival to a Tayside port. The then Harbour Trust drove forward development plans jointly with the giant P&O Energy Group’s subsidiary Sea Oil Services, Ltd., from mid-July, 1972. Construction work quickly followed and soon a custom-designed offshore support base took shape, to the envy of ports along Scotland’s east coast.

“The town’s business community soon latched on to the potential markets thus presented, and local representatives joined export and fact-finding trade missions, participated in offshore-related exhibitions, and individual personnel took off for a wide range of destinations around the North Sea including Norway, the Netherlands and much further afield to North America, Brazil, Singapore, etc.

“The Harbour board, the local Chamber of Commerce, Sea Oil’s tenants on the Base and individual companies carried the name of Montrose far afield, and it was also known to high profile figures in the industry including Red Adair.”

Mr Aitken continued: “Councillor Salmond would be well advised to applaud all this effort and hard-won business rather than belittle what looks like a lack of interest and missed opportunities.

“In addition, numerous former pupils of Montrose Academy have done well for themselves and their employers in many sectors of the international oil and gas industry, ranging from high technology subsea engineering, precision machining, offshore welcome across the board to accountancy, etc.

“In the meantime, I would respectfully suggest Councillor Salmond do his homework as I have calculated that he would have been a pupil at primary school when the foundations were being laid to build the town’s well-deserved excellent reputation around the North Sea and around the world.”