Schiehallion oil back on stream after eight months

Oil production has resumed in the Schiehallion field west of Shetland after a lay-off lasting more than eight months.

BP confirmed today (Thursday) that its floating production and storage (FPSO) ship Schiehallion came back on stream on Monday. No oil has been exported from the field since late May last year due to technical problems.

In October an attempt to resume operations was short lived when the dedicated shuttle tanker Loch Rannoch bumped the FPSO, damaging the loading hose and prompting a health and safety investigation.

Unofficially, the accident has been blamed on faulty satellite positioning equipment on the tanker which failed to bring the ship to a halt close behind the floating platform.

The recurring production problems with the FPSO have prompted BP to investigate alternatives, including a replacement storage ship and the use of a semi-submerged tank.

The Loch Rannoch has been tied up at Sullom Voe for months while repairs were carried out offshore. It is understood a new loading hose system has been installed next to the damaged unit on the FPSO.

BP said the first oil shipment should be brought into the Sullom Voe oil terminal next week, a welcome sight for Shetland Islands Council which lost well over £1 million in revenues in the first nine months of the financial year due to the shut down. The last tanker import was on 24th May 2009.

In the meantime an unexpected upturn in ship-to-ship oil transfers at Sullom Voe has helped to plug the gap in the council’s expected earnings from the terminal.

Schiehallion usually accounts for about 40 per cent of the tanker traffic through Sullom Voe.


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