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Schiehallion’s last load?

Last oil? Shuttle tanker Loch Rannoch is about to deliver her final load before the Schiehallion field closes for a major upgrade. Photo John Bateson

SULLOM Voe oil terminal is to receive its last shipment from the valuable Schiehallion oil field west of Shetland this week before it shuts down for a £3 billion upgrade.

The shuttle tanker Loch Rannoch is loading her final cargo of oil and water as part of a cleaning up operation at the field before it closes down.

Schiehallion has been providing 40 per cent of Shetland Islands Council’s income from running the port at Sullom Voe, and the loss of income will add to its current financial woes.

There is also no guarantee that the business will return to Shetland once Schiehallion comes back on stream, causing more uncertainty for the viability of the port, which is having to increase its charges by 30 per cent to remain solvent.

SIC harbour master Colin Reeves said Loch Rannoch was expected to land her final load in the next two days, marking the final part of a tidying up exercise at the oil field that lies 100 miles west of the islands.

“It is two and a half years before BP expect a new FPSO (floating production, storage and operating vessel) to be on site at Schiehallion, but it’s not been built yet,” he said.

Schiehallion is one of the UK’s largest producing fields, having supplied 400 million barrels of oil to Sullom Voe since it opened in 1998.

The redevelopment is expected to see a further 450 million barrels extracted over two decades.

Extra oil is expected to come to Sullom Voe from BP’s Clair Ridge project in 2016, which has 42 million barrels of recoverable oil.

On Wednesday Norwegian multinational Aker Solutions announced that their Aberdeen operation had won a £70 million contract to complete the deep water sub sea work to develop the Schiehallion and neighbouring Loyal oil fields.

Aker expect to be on site in the first half of 2014.