26th September 2016
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First gas heads through plant and on to St Fergus

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The Shetland Gas Plant has sent its first export to St Fergus near Peterhead. Photo: Ben Mullay

The Shetland Gas Plant has sent its first export to St Fergus near Peterhead. Photo: Ben Mullay

The fruits of 42 million man hours of labour are starting to be reaped with the first gas from Total’s Laggan-Tormore field now having been exported from Shetland Gas Plant to St Fergus, outside Peterhead.

The first export gas headed south on Wednesday night three days after the plant took its first gas from the fields on Sunday. Shetland Gas Plant is the connecting node between the two 18-inch pipelines from the fields approximately 140km north west of Shetland and the Shetland Islands Regional Gas Export System (Sirge) which connects with the Frigg UK Pipeline (Fuka).

The two 142km pipelines, which form a complete loop, is believed to be the second longest “tieback” in the world while the plant itself is the biggest single UK construction project since the London Olympics.

Gas Plant manager Dave Wink.

Shetland Gas Plant manager Dave Wink. Photo: Ben Mullay

The quality of the Laggan-Tormore product is high – not far short of what is required for the national gas grid. While most of the high-methane content gas will head south via the pipeline, a liquid fraction, high-value condensate, is piped next door to Sullom Voe Oil Terminal. The first condensate was also exported to the oil terminal on Wednesday.

When it is in full production, which ought to be in the next few months, the plant will produce 14.2m cubic metres of gas daily and 14,000 barrels of liquid condensate.

The entire system’s topsides and subsea operation can be monitored and controlled from a control room in Shetland Gas Plant, which is intended to be connected by video link to the oil giant’s Aberdeen headquarters.

In order to keep the gas flowing in the cold temperatures of the seabed, monoethylene glycol (MEG) is pumped offshore via an eight-inch pipeline and is injected into the liquid/gas mix at the wellheads.

A good deal of the plant is devoted to recovering the MEG, dewatering, desalting it and treating it for re-use. Another good chunk of the massive infrastructure is devoted to cleaning up the water that comes ashore in the mix, or is otherwise collected in the plant before it is pumped to sea.

With groundworks and tidying up of the site ongoing there are still around 400 people on site,  with around 80 or 90 of them Shetland based, though this figure will likely reduce before he end of the year.

When the plant is in normal production around 80 staff ought to be onsite with a lesser number on the nightshift.

Costing some 3.5 billion, the plant is a hugely complex long-term project that is expected to produce a return over its 20-year life during which gas and oil prices will inevitably fluctuate.

There will be a more extensive report on Shetland Gas Plant in next week’s Shetland Times.

AboutPeter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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8 comments

  1. Andrew Jarvis

    Its great to see a place in the UK that still celebrates progress.

    Reply
  2. iantinkler

    Now let’s use some clean cheap gas for Shetland. • Clean power station burning gas. Stop importing and burning toxic waste for district heating (Pollutants and toxins from burning domestic waste, just a few: Dioxins. Furans. Arsenic. Mercury. PCBs. Lead. Carbon monoxide. Nitrogen oxides.). Non-polluting clean gas burn and save a small fortune. . Too much to expect when SG/SNP in control energy policy, green lunacy rules, OK. Now nuclear/atomic plants to be kept running past their sell by dates, only way the stupids in Edinburgh can keep the lights on. Well done Salmond, Sturgeon and Ewing what was the point of all those land and environment destroying wind farms if you have to prolong ageing nuclear plants, that is just so stupid. (nuclear is safe, so are aeroplanes, would you like to fly only in planes beyond projected safe operating date? That is what SG will be expecting to keep our lights on with, only that would be nuclear plant. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-35581272

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Interesting article, Ian. I liked the quote from the Scottish government spokesman:

      “Over the coming months we intend to continue work towards an over-arching energy strategy, setting out priorities for the future energy system in Scotland.”

      Call me old fashioned but wouldn’t the appropriate time for devising “an over-arching energy strategy” have been BEFORE the passing of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act, 2009, not 7 years after?

      A classical example from the annals of “Folly rued”!

      Reply
    • James Watt

      Ian, you are spot on in everything you say there, it’s a disgrace that the only way the stupids can keep the lights on is by extending the life span of ageing nuclear plants.
      The closure of Longannet should be the catalyst for the investment in new cleaner generation methods like gas but instead we could be left with the risk of brownout at time of peak demand.
      It’s just a shame you forgot one little thing, energy policy is a reserved issue, so it’s Westminster and National Grid PLC that are responsible for the situation you so eloquently described.

      A list of devolved and reserved powers for you Ian.

      http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/visitandlearn/25488.aspx

      Reply
  3. Ian Tinkler

    Climate Change (Scotland) Act, 2009, It is blowing in the wind James. Not as reserved as you imagine.

    Reply
    • James Watt

      I am aware of the climate change act Ian, it’s a very good example of the Scottish Governments environmental policy (devolved) but it has no legislation over power generation other than setting targets for renewables, Westminster has even removed the SGs ability to set subsidies for Scottish renewables, that’s how little influence they have over Scotland’s energy policy.

      Reply
  4. Ian Tinkler

    NB. James Watt: First Minister Alex Salmond words, ” nuclear power is a busted flush, steadily declining in output to its lowest level in the 21st century as a result of unplanned outages,” the First Minister added. “For Scotland, that proves – once again – that nuclear power is unreliable and ultimately unnecessary, with risks and uncertainties in waste disposal and the staggering costs of decommissioning.” The nonsense Wee Alex spouted. Just thank Goodness he failed with his Referendum. He damaged Scotland and its landscape enough when energy production was reserved issue. Given free reign he would have had us using candles and Tilley lamps.

    Reply
  5. iantinkler

    “Westminster has even removed the SGs ability to set subsidies for Scottish renewables,” Thank God they did, those subsidies just added millions to our energy bills and gave that money to already wealthy Lairds and landowners. It is a great job the SNP did enabling the Tories to rout out the Salmond, Ewing, Sturgeon’s Wind Farm nonsense. Now it is exposed for what it is, reliant on old nuclear plant to keep the lights on. Frightening to think where we would be if Scotland was independent. Lets hope Shetland gets clear of all these clowns and can use its own gas. Just imagine energy bills reduced to about 10% of the cost of wind power generation. Whoop whoop. As for Viking Energy, just who would spend a £billion on an interconnector to buy the most expensive power generated on land, apart from SG/SNP and green lunatics?

    Reply

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