Sullom Voe

The Sullom Voe Terminal is located at the northern end of the largest of the Shetland Islands. It is one of the largest oil terminals in Europe.

The terminal was built between 1975 and 1981 and covers 1000 acres. Its main purpose is to act as a buffer between the producing fields offshore and tankers waiting to ship oil to refineries worldwide. The terminal has been designed to allow continuous production offshore, even in bad weather. 

The Sullom Voe Terminal is operated by BP and handles production from more than two-dozen oilfields in the east Shetland Basin, between Shetland and Norway. Approximately 20 different companies have interests in the terminal, which receives production through the Brent and Ninian pipeline systems. 

Oil from BP's West of Shetland Schiehallion field, has been brought to Sullom Voe since August 1998 by shuttle tanker. At peak production an average of 142,000 barrels per day will be imported using a purpose built, double hulled shuttle tanker Loch Rannoch. Dedicated storage and pumping facilities were upgraded during 1997. 

Gas is also imported from West of Shetland fields via a 20-inch pipeline. Some of this gas is dried, treated to remove H2S and used as fuel in the Power Station. The remainder is exported to the Magnus platform via another 20-inch pipeline, where it is used for Enhanced Oil Recovery. 

In 2003/04 a new 22-inch oil pipeline was laid between Clair and Sullom Voe and terminal reception facilities built, including a receiver for pipeline cleaning pigs. The Clair oil field came on stream in February 2005. The oil will be stored at Sullom Voe prior to loading onto export tankers. Gas from Clair will be imported to Sullom Voe via the existing 20-inch West of Shetland gas pipeline. 

As a result of its remote location, the Sullom Voe Terminal has to be entirely self-sufficient, particularly where emergency services are concerned. On site there is a fire brigade and a pollution response team, both of which hold regular exercises to test their readiness to cope with emergencies. 

Operational Milestones over the Past 25 Years (1980s)

  • First Oil to Sullom Voe Terminal arrived on the 25th November, 1978.
  • The Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group (SOTEAG), an independent body set up to monitor the environment around the terminal. Every year SOTEAG commissions and reviews a programme of monitoring that covers birds, rocky shores and the sea bed of Sullom Voe and the surrounding area.
  • In April 1982, the fractionation plant comes on stream, producing SVT's first propane and butane.
  • January 1985 - Highest crude throughput in one day 1,503,417 barrels.
  • During September 1987, inspection work is carried out which leads to the major Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) Project.
  • In 1989 the Sullom Voe Terminal 10th anniversary scholarship trust is formed. The fund was established to promote and encourage the education of persons resident in Shetland who will be undertaking a course of study in a discipline likely to contribute to the social and/or economic development of Shetland.

Operational Milestones over the Past 25 Years (1990s)

  • In August 1990, Brent and Ninian stabilised crude oil is commingled to form a single export stream - called 'Brent Blend'.
  • The Terminal Re-instrumentation and Control (TRAC) Projects takes place during 1991 and 1992.
  • 3rd December 1997, the owners of the Brent and Ninian Pipeline Systems announce they had agreed a new set of principles for running the pipelines and the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal in Shetland well in to the next century.
  • First shipment of oil from the Schiehallion field in the Atlantic Frontier, west of Shetland is off loaded on 8th August 1998 from the Nordic Savonita. The dedicated Shuttle Tanker Loch Rannoch arrived for the first time at Sullom Voe on 1st November 1998.
  • 6th January 1999 largest cargo was the Hellespont Grand, 395,567 tonnes.

Operational Milestones over the Past 25 Years (2000s)

  • 7 billionth barrel through SVT achieved in December 2001.
  • Magnus Enhanced Oil Recovery Project: 2nd June 2002 fuel gas from West of Shetland pipeline is introduced to the SVT power station for power generation.
  • In April 2003 SOETAG reports that the marine environment around Sullom Voe Terminal is 'better than ever before'.
  • On 7th June 2002 3 million man-hours without Days Away From Work Case achieved.
  • April 2004 - Successful trial of the transfer of crude oil from one oil tanker to another across jetty 4.
  • In July 2004 the site achieved zero total recordable injury frequency (TRIF), i.e. no injury requiring medical treatment or worse in the previous 12 months, and also 1000 days without a high potential incident (HIPO) occurring.
  • February 2005 - First oil from the Clair Field