Sullom Voe celebrates 30th anniversary


WORKERS at Sullom Voe cel­ebrated three decades of oil processing this week as the terminal marked its 30th anniversary.

Celebrations were held on Tuesday to remember the opening of what was one of the largest construction projects ever under­taken in Britain.

Its completion was the cul­mination of four years of work on a scale Shetland had never before seen.

Since then the terminal has processed over 7.6 billion barrels of crude oil, as well as over 14.5 million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas for export.

It has done so thanks to two massive German steel pipelines – the 36-inch diameter Ninian pipe for BP and the Brent for Shell-Esso – capable of feeding the terminal with up to two million barrels of oil a day from offshore fields.

So vast is the terminal that building it spanned an eight year time-frame, from 1974 to 1982.

Virtually every item of the plant, and the many basic building materials, had to be shipped in over a specially-commissioned construction jetty, so isolated was the terminal’s location.

The black stuff first arrived in Shetland at 1840 hours on 25th November 1978, via the Brent pipeline.

Just a week later, at 1230 hours on 3rd December, crude from the Ninian pipeline also arrived at the terminal.

Terminal manager Lindsay Boswell said he was delighted Sullom Voe had proved to be such a success story for Shetland.

“Thirty years of operations is a great milestone and everyone involved should be very proud of this achievement.

“Clearly the oil industry has become an integral part of the life, culture and economy of Shetland during this time and I hope that the new investments at the terminal will allow us to continue to work together to make the most of business opportunities in the future.”

Those “new investments” mark continued confidence in Sullom Voe, which come eight years after the terminal was originally forecast to close.

Work is currently ongoing to replace the existing gas processing plant with a simpler, smaller facility. That plant is expected to be operational by August 2010.

By then over 40 years will have passed since oil exploration in the East Shetland Basin first began.

Staff at the terminal say they have maintained a good working relationship with oil companies, the SIC and the island’s community.

To commemorate the anniversary, the terminal will be donating £30,000 to charities nominated by staff.

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Sullom Voe Factfile

  • Currently 210 people work for BP at Sullom Voe, as well as around 250 contracted workers.
  • Since its opening the terminal has seen 7.6 billion barrels of oil be processed, and 14.5 million tonnes of LPG.
  • Over 12,500 export tanker movements have been handled by the terminal to date.
  • Billion-barrel milestones along Sullom Voe’s history are 23rd December 1982, 9th May 1985, 30th October 1987, 8th July 1990, 22nd December 1993, 13th June 1997 and 15th December 2001.

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