Councillor demands assurances over tankers

A councillor has demanded assurances that loaded tankers will no longer be seen lingering too close to shore after leaving the Sullom Voe terminal.

South Mainland member Allison Duncan spoke during Thursday’s harbour board meeting, when he questioned head of infrastructure John Smith.

“Can you give members an assurance that the inshore layby of loaded tankers on departure from Sullom Voe will not happen now or into the future again?”

Mr Smith said the experience of recent weeks had shown engagement with tanker operators. But he warned neither the council nor the oil companies held jurisdiction over the waters surrounding the isles.

“The support we have had from all parties leads me to believe that we have re-set things, and there shouldn’t be again.

“Neither the council nor the oil companies have formal jurisdiction outside the harbour areas.”

That, he said, made it difficult for him to offer any “categorical assurances”.

“I expect there should not be. We will keep a close eye on this matter, but there is a realistic limit to the guarantees that can be given by anybody that doesn’t have that jurisdiction.”

Earlier this year, concerns were raised after the oil tanker Hovden Spirit, packed with around 600,000 barrels of crude oil, anchored off the east coast of Fladdabister for almost three weeks.

A report before the board states that “positive engagement” has been carried out with oil industry representatives, as well as agents and ship owners.

It adds there have been no instances concerning inshore layby of loaded tankers since 11th February.

A review is due to be held at the Sullom Voe Association meeting on 18th March to “consolidate” progress.

But the issue surrounding tankers was brought up again later in the meeting when Shetland Central member questioned wording in the report by harbourmaster Greg Maitland which stated high level engagement had taken place following “the media interest” in tankers.

“There may have been considerable media interest,” said Mr Sandison. “I’m sure this is something that raised considerable concern across the whole community, and not just the enquirers.”

Chairwoman Andrea Manson said removing the word “media” would make the statement correct.


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