ENERGY body the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has assured Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael that it will make “high level contact” with the community in the wake of BP’s recent decision to bypass Shetland with oil from Schiehallion.
Last week it emerged that BP – the leading operator of Sullom Voe Terminal – would be taking oil from the vital field 110 miles west of Shetland to Rotterdam for processing, striking a blow to the islands’ economy.
Port operator Shetland Islands Council, which was frozen out of talks, was heavily critical of the manner in which BP handled the decision.
Last month Wood Group and Bilfinger confirmed they were in talks to make around 260 people redundant ahead of the winter, and in the wake of a sustained fall in global oil prices.
On Tuesday, Carmichael said he had enjoyed a “productive” meeting with OGA representatives in London.
Earlier that day he had raised the importance of the authority’s role in supporting Sullom Voe in light of recent developments regarding Schiehallion.
OGA chief executive Andy Samuels told the committee he attached great importance to the terminal’s operation and pledged to engage with the local community in shaping its future.
Carmichael said: “I am pleased that the OGA recognise the continuing strategic importance of Sullom Voe and its significance to the Shetland economy. I was pleased to have this early meeting to discuss the loss of Schiehallion’s business.
“We all know that these are difficult times for the industry and the Shetland community is wary of the knock-on effect on the local economy.
“I therefore welcome senior figures in the OGA acknowledging the need to engage with community interests and also companies operating around Shetland.
“I hope the OGA can take these positive steps forward as they implement a long-term strategy to help the industry deal with the pressures from falling oil prices in the North Sea.
“I told the chief executive and the chairman that I would like to see high level contact between the authority and the isles and I was pleased to receive an early assurance of this.”
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