Since announcing the £4.5billion investment to develop the second phase of the giant Clair field (Clair Ridge) West of Shetland (WoS) there has been much talk and debate about the long-term prospects of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). Is this project typical? What does it mean for the UK economy? What does it mean for Shetland, and, what does it mean for jobs and employment in the North Sea as a whole?
What it does highlight is the potential that lies WoS. Oil and Gas UK data highlights that this region contains one third of sanctioned reserves across the UKCS. There are seven sanctioned fields, seven new fields awaiting sanction, and three further brown field redevelopments in the pipeline. A range of companies have already committed £15billion for WoS development by 2020 and 800million boe are expected to be produced in that timeframe.
BP is the only operator and producer WoS, having begun exploration in the 1970s and established its first operation some 15 years ago. The three producing fields – Schiehallion, Clair and Foinaven – have already produced some 800million barrels and have created billions of pounds of tax revenue and thousands of jobs since 1997. This track record has provided a strong base for future exploration and operational growth. As can be seen through its investment in Clair Ridge, BP is committed to developing these reserves and it expects production to come onstream in the second half of 2016 at a rate of up to 120,000 barrels per day.
The growth in WoS exploration and production activity not only holds huge potential for the UKCS, but also has implications for Shetland itself. BP’s Sullom Voe Terminal (SVT) was built in Shetland between 1975 and 1981, with an expected operational life of some 25 years. Thirty-one years later, SVT is in need of a makeover to meet growing demand from new, WoS producing fields. BP is therefore aiming to invest in upgrading SVT to ensure it is able to continue to play its key role in the North Sea for another 20 years or more. One such investment is the Sullom Voe Acid Gas Removal (SVAGR) plant, which will ensure that sour gas from WoS fields is safely processed and exported to BP’s Magnus platform to be used in enhanced oil recovery.
Looking at the wider implications for the economy and jobs market, as a result of increased WoS activity, the future looks encouraging. In 2013 alone, BP will recruit around 30 new employees into careers at SVT. Hundreds of additional jobs will be created on the back of the investment by contractors and third parties. Beyond Shetland, thousands of jobs will be created globally as a result of WoS developments.
However, while the future looks extremely bright, some seasoned oil and gas professionals may question the decision to select Shetland as a career destination. It has an unfair reputation for being “old news” in the oil industry in addition to isolated, cold and wet. BP is the only operator to be actively challenging this reputation by operating the majority of roles through a “live local” programme, as well as a few roles which operate to a more traditional rotational working shift pattern. BP believes life in Shetland not only offers a fantastic career, but also a hugely rewarding lifestyle.
To find out more about life, a career, and living in Shetland, read the article opposite and visit; www.bp.com/northsea