Gas plant a vital part in UK’s energy economy, says Rudd

Shetland Gas Plant was formally opened today by energy secretary Amber Rudd addressing a host of Total top brass and local and national politicians.

UK energy minister Amber Rudd.
UK energy minister Amber Rudd.

Ms Rudd said that SGP played an important role in the UK’s energy jigsaw, providing seven or eight percent of British gas requirements – or about enough for the whole of Scotland. SGP was a ray of optimism at difficult time for the market.

She emphasised that gas was one part of the mix, along with renewables – she all but confirmed rumours an announcement on a forthcoming renewables auction would be made next month, but there is still uncertainty whether Viking Wind Farm and other island on-shore wind projects will be allowed to bid on this.

The energy secretary confirmed she had had representations from local MPs about the importance of the wind farm for the future of Shetland’s economy and said that she “was aware of the value local people put on it”, but could not yet say if will be in the pool of projects permitted to bid in the auction.

Instead, she stressed the UK’s record in developing more offshore wind energy than the rest of Europe put together.

Speaking after unveiling a plaque in the gas plant dining hall, Ms Rudd said that the £3.5bn plant and associated offshore infrastructure was a “triumph for the area” and a “fantastic investment into the UK oil and gas industry” and played a major part in energy security.

She also fielded criticism she had shown a lack of commitment to Scotland by failing to come north at a time that the offshore sector was suffering in Scotland, by saying people were more interested in outcomes than attendances.

Total chief executive and chairman Patrick Pouyanné said that the UK was perhaps unique in Europe in the incentives that it had offered since the oil price slump but called for a relaxation of corporation tax.

He also said that gas and oil had to keep being technologically innovative if it was to weather the downturn in prices and keep growing and investing in the North Sea and west of Shetland fields. Gas and renewables such as solar had a crucial part to play in a low carbon energy mix and was helping to move away from reliance on coal.

He said that energy companies must prepare for the future and shift their image from that of the “bad boys” to being seen as part of the solution. As such, energy companies should emulate the exploratory spirit of the Vikings and pioneer change.

Ms Rudd said later that the long-term future of UK gas production would be assured as the government has embraced the, highly controversial, process of fracking.

The speakers emphasised the toughness and difficulty of the conditions that SGP had been built under and conceded that these had not been fully accounted for while congratulating the efforts of the partners, including the Laggan Tormore partners Dong Energy and SSE as well as principal contractors Petrofac and its subcontractors.

Total UK managing director Elizabeth Proust said safety had been a constant factor during the construction of the plant and in 16 million man-hours of work there had been no fatalities and only a few serious injuries; for that she congratulated the client, contractors and everyone involved.

The plant was on top form production wise for the tour of guests with 15.5m standard cubic metres of gas being output – up 10 per cent on planned production. Guests and reporters were also informed that the flare will be extinguished once a battery of compressors is fully commissioned, reducing the carbon output of the plant’s operation.

So keen was Total to emphasise its safety credentials that all visitors were invited to report any breaches of safety they might notice as they were whisked around the site on bus.

A unique feature of the plant is the massive bunds that are being used to store 700,000 cubic metrest of peat that will be used to reinstate the site once its working life is over. These peat dumps are as deep below the ground as they extend above.

Another is the amount of mono-ethylene glycol (Meg) anti-freeze that is injected offshore to keep the mix of gas and condensate, which would otherwise freeze in the pipes, flowing. A large part of the plant is devoted to recovering the expensive Meg which is re-injected at the well heads.

More in this week’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • John Tulloch

    • May 16th, 2016 18:59

    If Viking Energy was going to be allowed to bid in the renewables auction would not this have been a most auspicious occasion on which to announce it.

    There is no point in allowing Viking Energy to bid unless the government approves the cost of the necessary submarine cable investment. That Alistair Carmichael has gone public with his concern that the proposal will be rejected, suggests he recognises that his efforts, behind the scenes, to have it agreed have failed and he now, simply, wants people to know that he tried.

    The wholesale price of electricity varies between £20-£30/MWh, depending on time of day and is derived, chiefly from gas and coal-fired production.

    Why on earth would the UK government agree to English and Welsh consumers paying £115/MWh, plus the cost of gas turbine backup for when the wind doesn’t blow, plus £1bn for a subsea cable, plus the necessary grid reinforcement, plus… all to potentially bankroll an independent Scotland under the SNP?

    The project is dead in the water. Time to end the charade.

  • David Spence

    • May 16th, 2016 22:48

    aaahhhhh This is why David Cameron was up visiting the islands 1 month before the Independence Referendum in 2014, and Ruth Davidson visiting Shetland 2 weeks after Cameron’s visit. No doubt singing the same song.

    If the people of Scotland had voted for Independence, but Shetland voted ‘ No ‘ then Shetland could join England, thus England getting all the revenue and riches from the oil and gas Shetland brought in from the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

    What does one learn from this…………..That the Conservatives (or the political representatives) prove they are a party where selfishness, greed and could not give a damn attitude, rules their agenda and morals. Where as long as they will benefit, they do not care who they trample on to achieve their objective………….as their past history has proven time and time again.

    The Conservatives are not a party who represent the people, but a party which only looks after it’s own interests first, second and anything else left over (did I say selfish??).

    • Robin Stevenson

      • May 17th, 2016 10:56

      Absolutely David, nothing much has changed since the deal made back in the 70’s with Jo Grimond, by ‘gifting’ Shetland with their own mini ‘oil fund’ the UK government would be seen as the good guys, and create a wedge between Scotland and the Northern Isles, which indeed is the case. Obviously they’d try to get away with the minimum they could, of which they did, however this would still lead to the Islanders loyalty while pretending that it was the Scottish government draining all oil & gas revenue, which as we now know is nonsense, as ALL revenue goes – and has always gone – to Westminster.

      This is what I find so bizarre over S&O’s and WS choice of political party? Any unionist party whether it’s Labour, Tory or the Lib/Dems, are dictated by our Westminster government and our establishment.

      “What does one learn from this” I hear you ask? Well, I’m afraid very little judging by the S&O election results. While Tavish may perhaps be perceived as the best choice of MSP for these Islands, it is not the capabilities of the individual but who or which political party he represents, and indeed their own ‘self interest’.

      • iantinkler

        • May 17th, 2016 15:24

        Robin Stevenson, when will you understand, an awful lot of people voted for Tavish because of a profound dislike for Nationalism and those who denigrate everyone who shares not, your unpleasant posturing and narrow views. You offended many by referencing all “No” voters as “Turncoats”. I would say you were probably Mr. Scott MSP’s greatest asset during the election campaign. Just as Nicola Sturgeon’s greatest asset was Jeremy Corbyn. Hardly difficult to demolish the Labour vote when he is their leader. The Nats did not so well when Ruth Davidson was the principal opponent. I would love you views on her. Perhaps Nippy sees the writing on the wall, against a decent opposition she is found very wanting.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • May 17th, 2016 19:00


        Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister on the 20th Sept 2014, Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the Labour party in 12th Sept 2015, a full year later, therefore your statement “Just as Nicola Sturgeon’s greatest asset was Jeremy Corbyn”, How does that work?

        I DO wish you’d go and read what I said about Billy Connolly being a ‘turncoat’ properly, and stop repeating what you’ve obviously failed to understand, while pretending that it applied to ‘every’ no voter? I’m aware you have issues with writing, but surely it shouldn’t affect your reading skills? In case you can’t find it let me repeat for you, in the hope that it eventually sinks in:

        ‘The term ‘turncoat’ in the case of Billy Connolly, refers to someone that intentionally ‘turns their back’ on their roots to further their own aims’.

        I look very much forward to Ruffalo’s opposition in Holyrood, at last, we can hold her and her government to account, instead of having to listen to Kezi’s weekly drone. The beauty of Holyrood is, only one person is allowed to talk at a time, which of course means poor Ms Davidson won’t be able to shout over everyone else. 🙂

    • iantinkler

      • May 17th, 2016 11:45

      Brian, I love your conspiracy theories about the conservatives. Your only sane comment is ” the people of Scotland had voted for Independence, but Shetland voted ‘ No ‘ then Shetland could join England, ” Well that bit is partly true and it has absolutely nothing to do with the conservatives. A short rewrite however; ” If the people of Scotland ever voted for Independence, but Shetland voted ‘ No ‘ then Shetland could join the rUK, or become a Crown Dependency, or become wholly Independent. “. and why not if that is what Shetlanders want, the clearly have little love for the SNP?

      • David Spence

        • May 18th, 2016 0:18

        Ian McIanface or is it Ian? lol You know as well as I do, the Tories could not give a damn about these islands or the people of Shetland (unless you are the selected few elitist’s who support the Tories)……..All they were concerned about was ‘ stealing the revenue Shetland would make if its loyalty (said loosely) was bought off (bribed for the elite of Shetland society) where England would benefit immensely is such revenue was redirected to England rather than Scotland.

        However, if such a scenario was to occur where Scotland had to prove its claim of the islands to counter England possession of the oil/gas, then this could certainly open a Pandora’s Box…….and incomes Denmark (hopefully) into the situation……………..but alas…….and a pity for Shetland, such a scenario will probably not take place………….even if there is a ‘ second referendum on Scottish Independence ‘.

  • Steven Jarmson

    • May 17th, 2016 10:08

    I seem to recall that Total reminded everone that taking pictures of the gas plant (and SVT) isn’t allowed.
    How then can it be that there’s a fine picture attarched to this article?

  • iantinkler

    • May 17th, 2016 11:53

    Steven, clearly, Shetland is becoming quite a strategic target. We had 3 megatones of nuke aimed at us during the cold war, now a prime target for any terrorist. and perhaps mother Russia has us targeted still. Lets hope the R.M SBS, are still on standby and ready for instant dispatch. I think Northern Constabulary may be a bit out of their depth here. Have we any trained armed police on Shetland?

  • Alan Skinner

    • May 17th, 2016 12:33

    John Tulloch writes ‘The project is dead in the water. Time to end the charade.’ SSE will be delivering their annual report and accounts in June. It will be interesting to see whether they write down or write off their stake in Viking. A new chairman is taking over, which is the traditional time to write off anything uncertain in the balance sheet. SCT’s hand may be forced.

  • David Spence

    • May 17th, 2016 16:20

    I have mentioned this before, but if SSE pull out of the Viking Energy Project, I think this would be an excellent time (although it should have been done much, much earlier) to bring the SCT to the fore and have a public inquiry.

    I believe a lot of people, quite rightly, are questioning the SCT role in the Viking Energy Project,

    Who advised the SCT to invest in such a project?
    How much of ‘ Shetland’s money ‘ was going into the project?
    Who within the SCT would have benefited as an individual shareholder of the project (using Shetlands money and not their own) ?
    How much money the SCT would have actually make per year (in real terms)?

    and I am sure there are many more questions to ask.


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