The Oil Industry
Oil in the East Shetland Basin was first discovered in 1972 and the importance of Shetland’s location to the oil industry was immediately recognised. What had initially been a community dominated by a fishing and crofting economy, suddenly had the potential to undergo a drastic transformation.
The Zetland County Council (ZCC) – which today is the Shetland Island Council (SIC) – promoted the passing of a Bill that continues to allow them to have reserve powers when dealing with the oil industry and control over the developments in and around the island area (Zetland County Council Act, 1974).
In order to minimise impacts on the environment, the Council appointed advisory consultants when choosing a suitable site for the terminal; Callbeck Ness in Sullom Voe was finally deemed as most appropriate.
In 1974, the Sullom Voe Environmental Advisory Group (SVEAG) was established (later reconstituted as the Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group – SOTEAG) and began work on an Environmental Impact Assessment for the development of the Terminal.
Sullom Voe Terminal and Recent Activities
The BP-operated oil terminal is located towards the northern end of the largest of the Shetland Islands. Built between 1975 and 1981 and occupying 1000 acres, it is one of the biggest oil and liquefied gas terminals in Europe.
The main purpose of the Terminal is to receive crude oil and gas from more than two dozen offshore fields in the East Shetland Basin in the North Sea and Atlantic Margin, as well as from the Brent and Ninian pipeline systems. The oil and gas is stored, processed and finally distributed worldwide via tankers. Over 20 different companies have invested interests in the Terminal.
Since 1998, oil from the West of Shetland Schiehallion field has been transported to the Terminal using a purpose built double hulled shuttle tanker – Loch Rannoch. The Schiehallion FPSO that has been serving the Schiehallion field has recently been taken off station and a new vessel, Quad 204, is currently being constructed and is planned to be brought online in 2016. A portion of this imported gas is used to power the terminal, as well as a third of Shetland’s power demand. The remainder is exported to the Magnus platform via another pipeline where it is used for Enhanced Oil Recovery.
Clair (located off the West Coast of Shetland) provides both oil and gas to the terminal. The 1998 pipeline is used for importing gas and oil is transported using the more recent 2003/04 pipeline.
Future construction plans for the site include a pipeline link from the Terminal to the TOTAL Gas Plant to transfer condensate and a site wide upgrade project.