TOTAL has produced the first gas from the Laggan-Tormore gas and condensate fields offshore Shetland, UK.
The £3.5bn (US$5bn) project, the first of its kind in the UK, extracts gas from four subsea wells in the Laggan and Tormore condensate fields and then transports it via two 18” pipelines to the new onshore Shetland gas terminal, built at a cost of £800m by Petrofac. The terminal can process up to 500m ft3/d of gas and employs 80 people. Once treated, the gas is then exported to the UK mainland via the 243 km Shetland Island Regional Gas Export System (SIRGE) pipeline linking it to the Frigg UK A gas system in the North Sea, and then on to the St Fergas gas terminal near Peterhead. Condensate is exported via the nearby Sullem Voe terminal. The two deepwater fields, located around 125 km offshore the west of Shetland at a depth of 600 m, are expected to produce 90,000 boe/d, and meet 8% of the UK’s gas needs.
The construction project, on a greenfield area of peat bog, was the UK’s largest since the 2012 London Olympics. At its peak, more than 2,000 personnel worked onsite, and were housed in six floating accommodation facilities moored in Lerwick harbour, as well as in local hotels. Petrofac says that 39,000 m3 of concrete, 3,900 t of steel and 1,500 km of cabling was needed for the onshore terminal alone. The flare stack is 90 m high.
“Laggan-Tormore is a key component of our production growth in 2016 and beyond. The innovative subsea-to-shore development concept, the first of its kind in the UK, has no offshore surface infrastructure and benefits from both improved safety performance and lower costs,” said Total president exploration & production, Arnaud Breuillac. “By opening up this new production hub in the deep offshore waters of the West of Shetland, Total is also boosting the UK’s production capacity and Europe’s energy security.”
The Laggan-Tormore project has been beset with delays. It was originally due to start operations in 2013, and in April last year the contractor Petrofac was attacked by unions after blaming the delays on poor weather conditions, industrial action and low workforce productivity. The GMB and Unite unions called the reasoning an “outrageous attack on the workers” and pointed out that Shetland’s adverse weather conditions should be well-known. However, Petrofac admitted its own shortcomings and later got back on track.
Tavish Scott, member of the Scottish Parliament for Shetland, said that the startup and Total’s investment is “a sign of much needed confidence” at a difficult time for the oil and gas industry. Around 65,000 jobs have been lost from the industry since 2014.
“There is nothing but doom and gloom from some about the future of oil and gas. Yet the prospects for west of Shetland developments look positive. The French company Total [is] to be congratulated in bringing the huge Laggan-Tormore field on stream. That is good news for Sullom Voe, Shetland and the wider economy,” he said.
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