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Schiehallion’s back

THE SCHIEHALLION oil field west of Shetland is back on stream this week after being shut for eight months following a tanker collision.

The BP-owned field shut down at the end of May for maintenance, but plans to start exporting again were scuppered when the oil platform was struck by the shuttle tanker Loch Rannoch on 8 October.

The tanker was docking with the floating production vessel 110 miles west of Shetland to receive the first cargo following the shutdown, when it hit the platform damaging the massive hose reel used for transferring the oil.

The company had to have a new reel specially made, and estimated it would be ready by the end of January.

Yesterday (Thursday) a BP spokesman confirmed that production on Schiehallion had restarted on Monday 1 February, however refused to say how much the repair work cost.

The Loch Rannoch, which has been tied up at Sullom Voe oil terminal in Shetland for the past four months, is expected to leave to pick up her first cargo at 4pm today (Friday).

A BP spokesman said: “We restarted production on Monday after we replaced the export hose reel that was preventing us from operating. It’s a massive piece of kit, and not something you can buy off the shelf so we are quite pleased with the turn around time.

“We are very pleased to have it back producing because it’s a core part of BP and it is something we have missed.”

Concerns have been growing about the condition of the Schiehallion floating platform, which has been operating since production began in 1998 and work has been underway for the past two years to decide how to replace the vessel.

The loss of eight months oil production will have cost the oil company dear, as it has Shetland Islands Council who operate the harbour at Sullom Voe.

The council said that its harbour income was down by more than £1 million as a result of the shutdown. Loch Rannoch brings in 40 per cent of the port’s earnings since the decline in production in the North Sea.

Shetland islands Council harbour board manager Alastair Cooper said: “This is fantastic news because we have really been missing Schiehallion. We have lost a lot of income from the field not being back in production.

“The fact that they have been able to get the kit back on in the winter time and get it back into operation is good news for the port. I accept that there will be down time in the summer time for maintenance, but I trust that there will be some continuity now.”

Sullom Voe terminal manager Lindsay Boswell said: “”It’s obviously good news that oil production on Schiehallion has re-started and we look forward to receiving a first cargo shortly.”

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