THE OIL industry has reacted with surprise at Shetland Islands Council’s decision to raise harbour charges at Sullom Voe by a massive 30 per cent.
The SIC’s harbour board voted through the increase after hearing that tanker throughput was declining by 40 per cent over the next two years due to the loss of oil from BP’s Schiehallion field west of Shetland.
BP is currently redeveloping the Schiehallion field with no final decision yet on where the oil will go in the future.”
Sullom Voe oil terminal manager Arthur Spence reacted with surprise at the decision.
He said: “Whilst we recognise the challenges that the council face in reducing operating costs we must ensure that the safe operation of the port is not compromised and that Sullom Voe remains competitive.”
Harbour board chairwoman Andrea Manson said the decision had been made with “a heavy heart” was only temporary while Schiehallion was out of action.
However she pointed out that it was the oil industry that insisted on the port remaining open 24 hours a day throughout the year, forcing up the running costs.
Manson added that the council had done all it could to keep costs down, and they had no choice but to increase charges.
“We are entirely open to have a dialogue with the oil industry if they have any suggestions for a better way of running the port,” she said.
Sullom Voe is currently planning a major refurbishment programme to make the terminal fit for the next few decades, as hopes for west of Shetland developments grow.
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