Total gas plant contractors vow to ‘go local’ if they can

Contractors who will soon start work on the Total gas plant at Sullom Voe have pledged to use local resources and a local workforce wherever possible.

This was good news to members of the Shetland business community who arrived in force to hear a presentation from main contractor Petrofac and several subcontractors at Shetland Museum and Archives yesterday. So many piled into the auditorium hoping for business opportunities – or “a piece of the pie”, as one attendee said – on the Total Laggan-Tormore project that the presentation had to be aired twice. In all about 200 businesses were represented.

Petrofac Offshore engineering and operation project director Alex Hosie said he was keen to use a “local supply chain” and create a “bit of ownership” of the gas plant among islanders.

His part of the worldwide company is based in Aberdeen and has a UK workforce. It will be in Shetland for four years, working on the project which has 17 per cent of the UK’s remaining gas and oil reserves, and wants to “maximise” the local connection. In the first instance this means sourcing items for the construction activities which are due to start next year, including quarry materials of local stone, concrete, tractors, trailers, transport, warehousing, plant and bulk fuels.

However larger items for the gas plant such as large pipe racks and pre-assembled units will be made in the Middle East and shipped from Kuwait – although they could have been made in the UK they would now have to come from abroad to “meet the timeframe”.

Mr Hosie said he and the other subcontractors would be visiting representatives from schools, colleges, Jobcentre Plus and training providers during his time in Shetland with a view to offering locals work at anything from work experience to graduate level. These employees could eventually have careers in the industry, thus the project would “leave a legacy” in terms of employment for Shetlanders. Hundreds of jobs will be created during the construction phase, as well as dozens of longer-term jobs.

Meanwhile all the everyday needs of the building trade have to be met. Petrofac construction co-ordinator Mark Mahoney told the assembled business community to let him know what they could supply, be it nuts and bolts or Hilti guns. He reiterated the promise to use local resources.

Morrison Construction project director Tony Windle said the company was emphasising the local commitment. Mr Windle, who will be on site from July, said Morrison Construction will be responsible for the perimeter fence and road, the 3.5km floating road to access the gas plant, the foundations and structure of the gas plant, its building and shelters and the tie-ins for surface water and drainage systems. He itemised the building materials needed, which include 35,000 cubic metres of concrete, as well as inviting applications from trades personnel, qualified construction and engineering staff, admin staff including graduate and vocational trainees and specialist steel reinforcement personnel.

Mr Hosie told the audience to “challenge Tony” if he decided to go off-island for anything that could be supplied locally.

Next to address the meeting was Stale Jacobsen from Norwegian company Malthus AS, responsible for the accommodation and messing facilities. He said the workers’ camp at Sella Ness, which would eventually have 424 double rooms, would be built in modular form by UK based Caledonian Buildings Systems Ltd and operated by the firm ESS. The first 240 bed would be ready by 9th June.

Paul Whittingham from ESS said the firm was looking for local catering, cleaning, hotel, admin and laundry staff, as well as electricians, plumbers and carpenters. “Local solutions are what we want to look at,” he said. This includes waste management, transport and food – local fresh food is “pivotal” and non-food items including kitchen equipment and, most importantly, a supply of news material.

His firm aims to employ 63 people by June – this figure excludes security which will be handled by another company.

After the presentation business personnel queued to hand in forms indicating what they could offer. Director of Graven-based company EMN Plant Ellis Nicolson said the gas plant could be “a good chance for us” for plant hire and possibly, in the future, for the quarry at Scatsta.

Sean Fillingham of electrical firm Appliance Rescue, based in Brae, hopes to supply appliances: “It’s a good opportunity to increase business and secure work for the next couple of years.”

And Support Training’s John Maclellan said: “It’s a tremendous opportunity for Shetland, especially for anyone unemployed.”

Shetland Islands Council economic development unit hailed the presentation, where around 200 businesses were represented, as a great success and showed Shetland as a “can-do” community.


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