SHETLAND Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell says the local authority’s first full meeting with prospective new Sullom Voe Terminal operators EnQuest was “really positive”, with the environment and local industry high on the agenda.
A council delegation met with representatives from EnQuest and outgoing operator BP at Lystina House on Thursday morning to learn more about the company’s plans for the terminal.
Among the issues raised by the council delegation were protecting Shetland’s environment and utilising a resident workforce, as well as local services and contractors.
However, Bell said it was too early for discussions about whether any jobs may be lost at the terminal as part of efficiencies suggested by EnQuest in a statement made earlier this week.
“It was very much an opportunity to put faces to names and to begin to build a positive relationship with the people who will be the new operators,” he said.
“Things we particularly emphasised included the importance of maintaining Shetland’s pristine environment and the importance of it to the local economy, which is something which BP have taken seriously over the years.
“We also talked about the need for, and the benefits of, moving back to a resident workforce, and the support the local college can provide in terms of training. And the use of local support services and contractors.”
Bell reiterated that EnQuest is a “different kind of company” to BP and is likely to be “quite aggressive in pursuing business” to make a success of the terminal.
“BP has played a big part in Shetland life over the last 40 odd years, so people will be worried about the impact,” he said. “But what we’ve seen and heard so far has been positive and it’s the end of one era and the start of another.”
The convener said a further meeting will be held between the council and EnQuest in March, but regular dialogue will take place in the interim.
Around 350 staff are expected to be transferred from BP to EnQuest in a process which could last for much of the year.
The £68 million deal will initially see EnQuest take a quarter of BP’s 12 per cent stake in Sullom Voe Terminal, as well as a quarter of its share in the Magnus field.
However, it is expected that the company will eventually buy out all of BP’s shares in both for £240 million.
EnQuest’s aim is to reduce the terminal’s running costs of £150 million a year to prolong its lifespan.