Laggan-Tormore is a 140K long tie-back of four subsea wells to the new onshore Shetland Gas Plant. Following treatment there, the gas is separated out from sand and water to flow through the Total-operated pipeline system on to the St Fergus terminal near Peterhead. The photograph below shows the Frigg complex. Like the MCPO1 platform, which was also on the Frigg pipeline route, these were mostly Condeep structures now decommissioned.
French oil and gas giant Total has turned on gas production from the Laggan-Tormore fields in hostile waters north-west of Shetland. It is closer to the North Atlantic than to the North Sea, right on the edge of the UK continental shelf, where the water depths plunge, descending from 120M to 610M. One fifth of the UK’s remaining oil and gas reserves lie in the area to the west of the Shetland Islands.
The condensates are exported via the Shetland Sullom Voe oil terminal. Total have so far committed over £3.5billion to this much-delayed gas development. Petrofac lost £440million as a result of delays getting production up and running for the project. SSE (E&P) UK and Denmark’s Dong E&P (UK) each hold a 20% equity stake in the installation. The gas fields have paved the way for £700million worth of investment in Shetland over the next decade, and they will provide 8% of the UK’s total gas requirement, enough to heat 2 million homes. For a few days, until the Shell/BG Group mega-merger was given the green light, Total was the UK’s biggest oil and gas producer in terms of equity output.
The Shetland Gas Plant is the largest construction project in the UK since the London Olympics. 600 jobs were created during the construction phase, although only 80 personnel will be involved in its future operation due to the nature of the technology. The subsea to gas plant development has no sea-level surface infrastructure. The Laggan-Tormore hub will use pioneering robotic technology. “Operator Total is using a type of horizontal drilling (gas fracking) into a layer of sand between two layers of shale,” said Professor Alex Russell, a leading energy economist from Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University. “It’s innovative remote-controlled technology to reach inaccessible areas.”
Bringing Laggan-Tormore onstream is a boost for the beleaguered (North Sea) oil industry. It is set to be onstream for at least twenty years, and will doubtless increase the balance of the Charitable Trust, the fund that holds and invests Shetland’s public oil money.
In 1970, prior to the oil boom hitting Aberdeen, Rubislaw Quarry was still mining granite, Richards Ltd manufactured textiles at Broadford Works, shipyards lined the city’s waterfront and the oldest existing business in Britain, Aberdeen Harbour, was stuffed to the gunwales with fishing boats.
Some mention in this short article must be made of any threat to traditional industries and workforce issues. Shetland’s fishermen are facing added dangers in Yell Sound because of the Laggan-Tormore project. Relatively sheltered, Yell Sound is a vital area for fisher folk. Hydraulics and other fishing gear have been damaged during trials, with equipment snagged on seabed infrastructure and on the new pipelines where there are piles of rocks 4M high. Scallop boats, squid fishery traffic, nearshore vessels and small whitefish trawlers deserve and require safe fishing grounds and crossing points.
The link below takes you to a summary about disputes over Laggan-Tormore bonuses.
Petrofac facing legal dispute over Laggan-Tormore bonuses
In addition, I found the following research to be of interest and relevant. The Fossil Free link addresses the most important issue – whether we continue to extract fossil fuels.
‘Red lines are not for crossing’ – Chris Saltmarsh reports on Fossil Free Friday. OpenDemocracy UK website article
‘French chemistry’ – Offshore Engineer