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Call for oil wealth to be spread around

WITH SHETLAND experiencing a second oil boom as companies like BP, Total and Chevron invest billions of pounds, local MSP Tavish Scott is making the case for the whole of the islands to benefit from the bonanza.

His call comes as first minister Alex Salmond and his cabinet prepare to descend on the isles and oil company Chevron confirms more than £550 million of investment in its Rosebank  and Alder oil and gas fields.

Rosebank is located in 1,100 metres of water around 80 miles north west of Shetland, while Alder is in the central North Sea.

Scott has now submitted a survey carried out by Unst community council urging Chevron to explore the potential of using the former oil industry air field in Baltasound.

Tuesday also saw the publication of a new paper that set out the SNP government’s plans for the oil and gas industry if Scotland gains independence next year.

Scott said: “Whether it’s accommodation, transport or engineering, many local businesses are benefiting from the investments at Sullom Voe and west of Shetland exploration and drilling. 

“I want to ensure that all areas of Shetland get a fair crack at the whip.  That is why I am again meeting businesses and organisations in Unst as the north isles have distinct advantages for the industry.”

He added: “Baltasound was used by the oil industry for offshore flights in the past. Now with so much expansion I am asking that Chevron fully explore that potential again. 

“The recent incidents with one type of helicopter have meant the industry is looking at the shortest flight times for offshore transfers. 

“Shetland is best placed for this work both from Scatsta and Sumburgh but I look to Baltasound to also be part of that service.”

A spokeswoman for Chevron in Aberdeen said: “Chevron has committed to working with regional stakeholders to identify and evaluate areas of mutual benefit for Shetland and the Rosebank project.

“These areas include marine logistics, supply and services, training, emergency response and aviation logistics – with Baltasound one of the aviation options that we have under review.”

Rosebank, due to come on stream in 2017, holds an estimated 240 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalent.

Scott continued: “Alex Salmond recognises that oil and gas revenues are the backbone of the wider Scottish and UK economy. On that I agree. 

“But I want to ensure that Shetland benefits from the industry expansion taking place. That means resisting any attempts by the SNP government to remove more powers and responsibilities including the ZCC Act from local control. 

“I trust the SIC will make this case this week when the first ministerial plane arrives at Sumburgh.”

Salmond said: ““Clearly our world-leading offshore industry can provide long-term benefits to the economy of an independent Scotland.

“With the ability to tailor policies to national and regional priorities, and by maintaining our close working with the industry, we will ensure this valuable human and natural resource can strengthen Scotland’s economic fortunes and enhance the prosperity of the people of Scotland.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Greens are warning of the “serious climate implications” of promising to extract every last drop of North Sea oil.

“While the SNP and the pro-UK parties fight over who’s the best supporter of North Sea oil extraction, those of us who genuinely care about the future understand it is a resource to be conserved and used wisely rather than plundered and to hell with the consequences. “