Sullom Voe Terminal

(Sullom Voe Oil Terminal)

One of the largest oil and gas terminals in Europe, Sullom Voe receives several pipelines from numerous production platforms in the northern North Sea and North Atlantic. The Sullom Voe Terminal is located on Calback Ness in the Delting district of the Shetland Mainland. It occupies a 400-ha (1000-acre) site on the eastern shore of Sullom Voe, 5 miles (8 km) northeast of Brae and 29 miles (46 km) north of Lerwick. The terminal was established in the 1970s to service the North Sea Oil Industry and is operated by BP Exploration Operating Company Ltd on behalf of nearly 30 companies participating in the Brent and Ninian pipeline groups. The first oil was pumped from the Dunlin oilfield to Sullom Voe Terminal through the Brent pipeline on 25th November 1978 and five days later the first oil was shipped out of the terminal by the Shell tanker Donovania. The terminal was officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II on the 9th May 1981, in the presence of King Olaf V of Norway and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In recent years the average throughput has declined to around 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day (2003) and further to 250,000 barrels per day (2012), much less than the design capacity of 1.2 million barrels per day. At its peak in the mid-1980s the terminal was visited by up to 672 tankers in a year. Construction involved a workforce of up to 7000, with a staff of around 600 needed thereafter to operate the facility. The terminal separates oil, gas and residual water, has a fractionation plant to further separate the gas into its constituents and is also responsible for compressing and liquefying gas for export. Some of this gas is piped back to older oilfields and injected under pressure to recover residual oil. Facilities comprises 16 immense oil-storage tanks, four liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage tanks. associated pumping and metering equipment, and has its own fire station and power station, the latter also providing a significant proportion of Shetland's electricity requirements. The Sullom Voe loading and unloading jetties are owned and operated by Shetland Islands Council, with the harbour authority administration buildings are located on Sella Ness, a half-mile (1 km) to the south of the oil terminal.

Oil coming ashore from the Schiehallion, Loyal and Clair Fields from 1998, together with enhanced oil recovery techniques in older fields, will ensure a future for Sullom Voe until at least 2020. The French oil company Total began constructing a £3-billion gas plant in 2010, located next to the existing oil terminal. This will handle gas from fields lying to the west of Shetland in the deep waters of the North Atlantic.

The terminal has a good record for preventing spillage; only one major incident has occurred when, in 1978 only months after opening, the tanker Esso Bernicia collided with one of the jetties and discharged 1400 tonnes of oil which caused much pollution of the surrounding waters.

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