As many as 700 workers could swell the population of the Sullom Voe area in the next three years as the Total project gets underway, it has emerged.
Total E & P UK Ltd has this week applied for planning permission to build its gas processing plant together with pipelines and associated roads at land close to the Sullom Voe Terminal. The company has also applied for a works licence to enable development of the Laggan-Tormore gas condensate fields west of Shetland.
Representatives from the Total project told Delting Community Council that early plans envisage around 150 workers coming to Shetland in the initial stage, or “phase one” of the work – they will be able to be accommodated locally at hotels and guest houses.
However in phase two the numbers will go up to about 450 by 2011, rising to 700 by 2012. According to Total liaison officer Rhonda Kelly, the company is actively considering housing the workers in temporary modular units at Sella Ness, near to the construction site.
The two-storey accommodation blocks are expected to be shipped up to Sullom Voe and assembled on the site, which is already serviced. Modules could be added as required and the entire construction would be taken away when no longer needed.
The accommodation blocks would house a recreation area and gym, but would not be licensed, unlike the former construction camps at Firth and Toft. They would provide accommodation for around 500, with the remainder being housed locally. It is expected that the men would work 12-hour shifts, possibly 7am to 7pm. During the pipe-laying phase work will go on round the clock.
Ms Kelly said the area was favoured for accommodation due to its proximity to the work site. The venture should ensure work for Shetland-based ancillary services for four to five years and there could be a possibility of training and apprenticeships for local people, although nothing has yet been decided.
Regarding environmental issues, the meeting heard that peat disposal from the site was a major consideration. The problem could be solved by storing peat in reservoirs in terraces as close to the site as possible. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage could supply diagrams indicating how to store the peat, she said.
Once it is built, the Total gas processing plant will require about 60-70 permanent employees to operate the plant and remotely operate the offshore wells.
The Laggan-Tormore production will be brought to the site by two underwater pipelines going through Yell Sound with landfall in Orka Voe. Basic processing will take place before gas is piped onwards to the St Fergus gas terminal near Peterhead, via the pipeline going out through Firths Voe. The oil condensate extracted from the gas will be stored at Sullom Voe and exported by tanker.
The project will be of importance both to Shetland and to the UK because it could allow other west of Shetland fields to start gas production at greatly reduced cost by sending their oil through Total’s pipes.
Total recently acquired a 43.5 per cent stake in a field licence which includes the Tobermory gas field in the area, 110 miles north west of Shetland, which would feed into the proposed system.