AROUND 100 new permanent jobs are to be created at Shetland’s Sullom Voe oil terminal as operator BP switches from the current shift pattern to an offshore style ‘two weeks on/three weeks off’ rota.
The change comes in response to difficulties in recruiting a sufficient number of local people with the right skills.
BP’s North Sea regional president Trevor Garlick said the company was committed to recruiting local people wherever possible, but had to move to a rotational work pattern to attract the right skills from outside the isles.
Garlick was in Shetland on Thursday to deliver an upbeat message about the future of the 35 year old terminal, which is currently undergoing a £250 million refurbishment to serve the West of Shetland oil and gas developments.
He said the industry was close to commissioning a £350 million investment into a gas 'sweetening’ plant, which would take the number of construction workers on the site to 500 until the end of the decade.
The plant would extract the hydrogen sulphide from West of Shetland gas, a process that has previously been done offshore by reinjecting the gas back into the wells.
“I see great potential in the site. We are in the middle of a renewal programme, a programme of inspection and refurbishment, so that we can extend the life of this plant,” he said.
“We are also in discussion and early planning on a new gas sweetening project here to take in the souring gas from the west of Shetland assets, but to do that we need to recruit and we need to staff up, not least to set off the attrition and the retirement that we are seeing, but also to be able to provide the service here to the various shippers and to extend the life of the plant.”
BP is in the process of investing more than £10 billion over the next 10 years in its assets in the northern North Sea and West of Shetland, he said.
“BP has committed to the redeveloping of the Schiehallion field with a new ship arriving here in a year or so and production to commence probably not before the end of 2016.
“A new drilling rig (the Deep Sea Aberdeen) will be arriving here next year to drill 25 back to back wells, and the Clair Ridge project that was sanctioned a few years back will be starting up in 2017.
“We have a very big West of Shetland programme already committed.”
With Schiehallion oil potentially being shipped to Sullom Voe and Clair oil producing up to 200,000 barrels a day by 2017, throughput at the terminal could double to 400,000 barrels a day.
When asked about the company’s views on Scottish independence, Garlick appeared fairly relaxed.
“We have committed to these projects west of Shetland and they are being built right now. We remain very committed to these investments and will finish these projects off.
“In the long-term what will be probably more important than the outcome of the independence referendum is actually how competitive this site is and how competitive the North Sea is compared to other places in the world.
“I think the result of the independence referendum is very much down to the Scottish voters and we will be quite happy to work with either jurisdiction."