Shetland’s silent boom


SGP under construction.

It may have escaped your notice that earlier this week French company Total opened its Shetland Gas Plant, which is said to have the capacity to serve the gas needs of two million homes.

That is 8% of the UK’s gas needs. Every day, it will produce 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent.

Every day.

Add on to that the belief around a fifth of the UK’s remaining oil and gas reserves are situated off the west coast of Shetland, and it is hard to believe there is an oil shortage looming.

Building a £3.5 billion gas plant could hardly go unnoticed you would think.

It may be serving off the coast of Shetland, but the Shetland Gas Plant was hampered by year-long delays and added coasts throughout its construction. It is hard to believe it could go relatively unnoticed.

But it did.


SGP pipeline.

The reserves in the Laggan and Tormore fields were discovered 30 years and nine years ago respectively.

Interestingly, word of the Prime Minister making a stop in Shetland on the afternoon of 22 July 2014. In the February of the referendum year, the UK Cabinet issued a stark warning over the future of North Sea oil’s future.

Looking through the databases on the “Shetland Gas Plant”, the project is mentioned a handful of times in the papers in 2014.

First is news of a strike in January; one article from Mumbai; and then an article from 2 Setpember on Total denying there are delays in construction.

This is a very general conclusion, of course, and does not account for a broad scope of UK media outlets, but the point stands: it wasn’t talked about.

The issue did arise in a BBC Question Time, in which panelists raised suspicions about Cameron’s visit to the Outer Hebrides, but that was about all that was said on the matter.

The nub of the problem is how little was said about this project, which is believed to be the largest construction project since the London Olympic Games, has gone largely unnoticed.

It is going to create 70 full-time jobs, and created 800 jobs to build it. That is enough jobs to be in the news. And yet, it wasn’t.

Perhaps the Government forgot about the plant. However, I find that hard to believe.

Shetland’s oil and gas boom went by very quietly.




If you have any opinions on the Shetland Gas Plant, please feel free to comment. Was the plant talked about more than I noticed?



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