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Chevron to check out Baltasound airport

Baltasound airport before the control tower was demolished. Photo Mike Pennington

US oil giant Chevron have confirmed they are actively considering using the mothballed airport at Baltasound, on Unst, to service their massive Rosebank oil and gas development 80 miles north west of Shetland.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, who has been lobbying the company, said he had been informed that Baltasound was one of a number airports being considered by Chevron, including Aberdeen, Wick and Kirkwall.

The company will send representatives to Unst to make a first hand assessment of the airport.

“Nothing is yet confirmed and the company will compare the advantages of Baltasound with other airfields, but the fact that Baltasound is being considered is a significant step forward,” Scott said.

Rosebank, one of the biggest unexploited fields on the UK continental shelf, was discovered in 2004 in a depth of 1.1 kilometres.

It will be one of the most challenging environments to operate in due to the rough seas and deep water, and the lack of surrounding infrastructure.

Chevron say they will use use a floating, production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) to deliver a maximum of 64,000 barrels of oil per day to a shuttle tanker for export.

The FPSO will also process up to 42 million cubic feet of gas daily, which will be exported to Sullom Voe oil terminal via a new pipeline or through BP’s west of Shetland gas pipeline.

The company is investing around £5 billion to develop the field, with production due to start in 2017 if the final investment decision is approved next year.

Chevron is the major stakeholder with 40 per cent ownership, along with Statoil (30 per cent), OMV (20 per cent) and DONG (10 per cent).

Tavish Scott said: “Chevron are a major player in the expanding oil and gas fields to the west of Shetland.  

“They are making a long term commitment to the area so I what to ensure Shetland benefits from the new Rosebank development.  

“That could mean Unst and, in particular, the airfield at Baltasound.  It is very good news that Chevron have confirmed that they are actively looking at Unst.”

Baltasound airport was built in 1968 and kept busy during the early years of the North Sea oil boom, but traffic declined and it was mothballed in 1996 and is now mainly used for training and emergencies.

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