BP is to be asked to send representatives to Shetland to share information on its redevelopment plans for the Schiehallion oilfield where production is seriously hampered by technical problems.
There was also concern in the council today about the lack of information relating to the temporary shutdown of four Brent oil platforms since Saturday. Sullom Voe depends on the Brent pipeline for 37 per cent of its oil throughput.
Shell has been carrying out investigations into what caused a 25-tonne fender to fall from the Brent Bravo platform and to see if it has damaged the network of pipes on the seabed.
Today the council’s harbour board agreed to ask BP for talks about Schiehallion and how BP intends replacing the existing floating production and storage ship with a new one, which the board fears might see the oil bypass Sullom Voe.
Councillor Rick Nickerson is keen for the local authority to demand more information because Schiehallion tanker traffic can account for up to 40 per cent of port business at Sullom Voe, generating income for the community. Without good forecasts for the year ahead the council finds it impossible to meet its budget forecasts.
Head of ports and harbours Roger Moore said he was not getting the information he wanted from BP managers at Sullom Voe or from the marine operations manager for Schiehallion and Foinaven.
Concerned about the situation, councillor Nickerson called for pressure to be applied. Years ago the council and the oil companies pledged to work together to improve the viability of Sullom Voe. As Mr Nickerson said: “We’re supposed to be in partnership with these folk!”
Captain Moore said he was also seeking information about the Brent problems because an extended shutdown would mean less oil and possibly fewer tankers visiting Sullom Voe. Board chairman Alastair Cooper said it was unfortunately another factor the board had to take cognisance of.
Frustration at the lack of information from BP is not new for the council which, for a number of years, complained that the company’s forecasts given to the council for expected tanker numbers at Sullom Voe were far from accurate.