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Premier Oil and BP in joint oil spill response

The Solan platform west of Shetland - Photo: Premier Oil

PREMIER OIL, the operator of the Solan oil field to the west of Shetland, has signed an agreement with industry giant BP that allows the company to use BP’s oil spill equipment and expertise in case of an emergency.

Giving a presentation to the Shetland community safety and resilience committee on Thursday, the company’s environmental lead, Karen York, said the collaboration between the two companies was “good news”.

Her colleague Iona Littlewood, the environmental adviser for the Solan development, said Premier Oil had done “significantly more modelling than what is legally required” in setting out the company’s response in the case of an oil spill.

The move can be seen as a sign of the times where oil companies are striving to make efficiency savings to cut costs, although Premier Oil as the much smaller player is confident to gain more from the arrangement in terms of expertise and knowledge.

The Solan platform has been designed to withstand the theoretical one in 10,000 years wave, she assured the meeting at Lerwick’s Islesburgh Community Centre.

With a view to the ongoing emergency towing vessel debate, councillors present at the meeting showed some considerable interest in the Solan’s standby vessel, the Nor Solan, which was described as “more than your standard standby vessel”.

Solan, which is located around 105 kilometres west of Shetland and just 72 kilometres west of Foula, came on stream in spring this year.

With a daily production of around 15,000 barrels, the crude is pumped into a large subsea storage tank from where it is then shipped by shuttle tanker every seven to ten days.

Originally designed as an unattended installation, the Solan platform is currently manned by 38 personnel and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future, Littlewood said.

The platform could be remotely operated from a control room in Aberdeen but no date has been set for this to happen, she said.

There are a number of unattended oil installations in the southern North Sea, but there are none in the northern North Sea or even west of Shetland.

Meanwhile, BP will be invited to one of the next meeting of the community safety and resilience committee meeting to give further details of the recent oil spill in the Clair field where 95 tonnes of oil escaped into the environment.