Flotta Terminal marks 40 years of North Sea service

Posted 13, Sep 17

Flotta Terminal marked 40 years of service to the North Sea when a special ceremony was held at the island site in August 2017.

Officially inaugurated in 1977, the Terminal is still processing on average 100,000 barrels per day, more than 40 years later.

Flotta remains a crucially important North Sea facility and a national resource, with an outstanding operational, environmental, and health and safety record. It has received multiple safety awards and has seen no fatalities or major accidents, and no regulatory reportable hydrocarbon releases in the history of the terminal.

Guests at the ceremony included Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, and Lord Lieutenant of Orkney Captain Bill Spence. Councillors and officials from Orkney Islands Council, including Convener Harvey Johnston, and representatives from the local charities the terminal has supported over many years were also present, as well as members of the Flotta community.

Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Managing Director Bill Dunnett said he was very proud of the terminal’s achievements, noting that its 99.98% reliability record is “…as close to perfect as you can get in the industry.”

Bill added: “Looking to the future, it certainly looks good for the next ten years, and there is opportunity for more production. We see production from the Flotta Catchment Area lasting beyond 2030 and there is no reason why Flotta can’t follow suit.”

Guests were given a tour of the terminal, having enjoyed a lunch served by terminal caterers Sodexo which was based on the actual menu served at the inauguration of the facility 40 years earlier.

The tour included a stop to see the 1m barrel capacity oil storage tank F - which is currently being cleaned, inspected and repaired ahead of recertification for future use -along with visits to the engineering and fabrication shops and to the Emergency Response and Medical centres.

The story of the Flotta Oil Handling Terminal began in 1973 when the Occidental North Sea Group, comprising the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Allied Chemical, Getty Petroleum and Thomson North Sea, selected a landfall for their newly discovered Piper field, 125 miles east of Caithness.

Flotta was selected ahead of seven other possible locations and construction began in 1974 on the site – now recognised as one of the UK’s outstanding examples of contemporary industrial development.

Further volumes were added with the arrival of oil from the Claymore field in 1977, and peak production was reached on 4th November 1978 when the terminal processed 421,590 barrels. A total of more than 2.6 billion barrels of crude have been exported in the terminal’s lifetime, with the highest number of tankers seen at the terminal being 226, in 1979. 50 tankers visited in 2016 and 33 had done so as of August 2017.

The terminal received a new lease of life when it began providing transportation and processing services to the Nexen-operated Golden Eagle Development in 2014. Output from Golden Eagle initially doubled the volumes shipped through the terminal, and average daily production from Golden Eagle (whose owners were represented on the day by Nexen’s Glen Brook) is now between 70,000-77,000 bopd.