Approval for £500 million gas sweetening plant
The council’s planning committee has granted permission for development of a gas sweetening plant at BP’s Sullom Voe Terminal.
The £500 million development will comprise a new plant and associated equipment to process gas coming from the West of Shetland pipeline system. This will involve the removal of hydrogen sulphide from the incoming gas, resulting in “sweet gas”, which will then be transported to the Magnus field east of Shetland to aid oil recovery.
The gas sweetening plant will be built on a previously cleared site within SVT, and will also be used by Total. The plant will be built over three years, employing around 500 workers in the construction phase, and is expected to have a lifespan of 25 years. When fully operational it will employ around 33 full-time workers, but it is not known if they will be local people.
The plant itself will occupy a site of two hectares, but the overall project, which will include nine modules, a substation, a flare stack, an incinerator stack and associated infrastructure, which will cover 16 hectares. The planning application also covered access to the site.
The plant will be in a heavily industrialised site, and, according to planning officer Janet Barclay Smith who addressed Tuesday’s meeting, will not spoil the view, although the flare stack will be the most visible part at 70 metres. The incinerator stack will be 55 metres, but as there are already flare stacks in the area, this will cause “minimal change”.
The gas sweetening process has three stages – removal of H2S, water removal from the gas to meet export water specification and, finally, the by-product stream containing H2S to be disposed of. The meeting heard from BP representative Drew Mouat that this is best done by incineration, a decision arrived at by investigating Best Available Technology (BAT).
Air quality was an aspect of interest to SEPA, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, and the environmental study carried out has indicated that levels of emissions from the incinerator and flare will be acceptable.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has no objections provided strict measures are in place to protect otters and reefs in the special areas of conservation in Yell Sound and Sullom Voe, and the blanket bog at Ronas Hill.
The development will put pressure on the nearby roads, but the council’s road service is “generally happy” with the assurance that BP will “make good” wear and tear to roads by the project – this may included pre-commencement road surveys. It is envisaged that abnormal loads will come to Shetland via the existing construction jetty.