The Matador 3 deposits Bakkafrost Scotland's salvaged feed barge in Reraig Bay, Loch Carron.
The Matador 3 deposits Bakkafrost Scotland's salvaged feed barge in Reraig Bay, Loch Carron.

Bakkafrost feed barge salvage is costing more than £7m

We have demonstrated that we take our responsibilities seriously when it comes to protecting the environment, says salmon farmer’s finance chief as saga nears conclusion

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An operation to raise and remove a feed barge that sank off Portree, Skye, has so far cost more than £7 million, Faroes and Scotland salmon farmer Bakkafrost has revealed.

The figure was included in a presentation of the company’s results for the fourth quarter of 2022, made by chief financial officer Høgni Jakobsen on Tuesday.

“We had exceptional costs related to the recovery operation of the sunken feed barge that we had in Scotland. We booked around DKK 26 million (£3.75 m) in costs associated with that [in Q4 alone],” said Jakobsen.

“We have demonstrated [in Q4] that we take our responsibilities seriously when it comes to protecting the environment where we operate and make sure that we don’t do any harm to that.

Høgni Jakobsen: 'We have removed the 3,000 tonnes of sludge and feed remains and brought that for biogas.'
Høgni Jakobsen: "We have removed the 3,000 tonnes of sludge and feed remains and brought that for biogas."

“In this quarter we performed a complicated rescue operation to lift the feed barge that sunk after the Storm Arwen last winter. We ensured that no oil (diesel) or feed escaped from the barge. It was lifted up, and we have removed the 3,000 tonnes of sludge and feed remains and brought that for biogas.”

Hydrogen sulphide

The almost-new feed barge sank at Bakkafrost Scotland’s Portree site in November 2021. Initial work to raise the barge was halted when it was discovered that decomposition of feed had generated hydrogen sulphide, the “rotten egg” smelling gas that can explode when heated and is toxic if inhaled in high concentrations.

The concrete SeaMate barge was finally raised towards the end of last year and was being transported to a salvage site on Scotland’s west coast by the crane barge Matador 3 just before Christmas when the vessel’s skipper decided to seek shelter from bad weather and offload his cargo in Reraig Bay, Loch Carron.

Bakkafrost has had the crane barge and another vessel at the site since then, completing the emptying of the feed barge and waiting for a weather window to continue its journey to a farm site where engineers can be properly assess whether the barge can be refitted and reused.

The barge was lifted off the seabed during a high tide this week and is understood to be on the next stage of its expensive journey.