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Energy / Pontoon could replace 50-year-old Sullom Voe tug jetty

A Multratug 30, which operates at Sullom Voe. Photo: SIC

A PONTOON system has been identified as a potential way to replace the ageing tug jetty at the port of Sullom Voe – with early estimates suggesting it could cost at least £5 million.

The Shetland Islands Council (SIC) owned and operated jetty, at Sella Ness, was installed in the 1970s and is nearing the end of its operational life.

It comes in addition to four oil loading jetties located within Sullom Voe Terminal, as well one used for construction purposes.

The tug jetty is also used for the mooring of small craft and for boat hoist operations.

An options appraisal report on tug berthing facilities went in front of Shetland Islands Council’s harbour board on Tuesday.

The two preferred options at this stage relate to floating concrete pontoons, which could provide a “cost effective and relatively quick solution” for berthing tugs.

One option, which has an initial estimate of £5 million, is to install new pontoons on the existing finger pier at Sella Ness. The other, priced at £6.5 million, is to create a separate pontoon berthing area outwith the jetty area.

Port infrastructure manager Andrew Inkster told Tuesday’s meeting that the cost estimates are of a high level only and will be refined.

The next step is for the two options to be taken forward for more detailed consideration by the council’s asset investment group.

Meanwhile SIC infrastructure director John Smith said pontoons provide a safe and versatile way of bringing a boat alongside for access.

Since being installed, the number of tankers calling at Sullom Voe Terminal – and therefore needing the assistance of tugs – has significantly dropped.

Smith also said the Brent pipeline east of Shetland, which runs into Sullom Voe, could decommissioned next year as part of the field’s shutdown, which has been on the cards for years.

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But oil imports into Sullom Voe are still continuing, whilst tugs also provide essential emergency and pollution response capabilities.

A report to harbour board members also said that whilst discussions on the future of Sullom Voe Terminal continue in light of potential new energy opportunities, the “case for replacement of the construction jetty is not clear”.

A separate report on the construction jetty will be presented to the harbour board once the future of the terminal and its requirements are better understood.

Councillor Robbie McGregor reiterated his view that Shetland should not miss the boat when it comes to renewable opportunities.

Sullom Voe Terminal operator EnQuest is keen to repurpose the oil and gas terminal in the future to facilitate activity like hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage, with the existing infrastructure seen as a benefit.

“I do hope that we keep our eye on the ball here and don’t miss opportunities,” McGregor said.

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