Located approximately 125km north-west of the Shetland Islands, the Laggan and Tormore fields represent the future of the UK oil and gas industry.
The new Shetland Gas Plant (SGP) represents the very hub of Laggan-Tormore.
The site of the development, lying just to the east of the existing Sullom Voe Terminal, has since 2010 been the focus of a complex and fast-moving construction project.
The challenges involved in establishing the facility have called for creative and forward-thinking solutions that are sympathetic to the environment and the wishes of the local community.
They've also required detailed logistical planning as materials and equipment are delivered from around the world, and a large-scale workforce assembled to turn the plans into reality.
Once operational, the SGP will process and export produced gas and condensate carried ashore from the fields via two 18" pipelines. It will be capable of processing up to 500 million standard cubic feet of gas per day and employ around 70 people.
The story so far
A ceremonial peat-cutting ceremony was staged at the site in May 2010 and a new access road established to support construction operations.
All preparatory earthworks, including large-scale terracing work on the steeply-sloped site, were completed by the summer of 2011.
Two large peat stores, used to accommodate 650,000m³ of material excavated during the pre-construction phases, were subsequently erected.
A large accommodation facility, established adjacent to the construction site and capable of housing up to 848 personnel, became fully operational in 2012. The temporary facility features a shop, library, laundry, IT room, restaurant, gym and bar, as well as medical facilities and five-a-side football pitch.
The main EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor Petrofac took over the site in October 2011 to begin construction activities.
Status: June 2013
There has been no let-up in the momentum behind the construction project in recent months as the physical transformation of the site becomes increasingly evident.
The bulk of the main civil works is now complete. The statistics tell something of the scale of this initial phase: several kilometres of trenches have been excavated, and around 20,000m³ of reinforced concrete poured for foundations.
The shape and scale of the plant is now clearly apparent as the structures that will accommodate the plant's processing operations are completed.
Further, many thousands of tonnes of equipment have been delivered to the site for installation in recent months. These include the first batches of large, pre-assembled racks that in essence constitute the 'spine' of the plant.
Project managers are now engaging with the mechanical trades to progress elements of the next phase of activity, including structural piping work.
The original accommodation barge berthed in Lerwick Harbour has been joined by a second during the summer of 2013 to provide a further 440 beds for site workers, in the process easing the pressure on local B&B facilities during the tourism season.
Christophe Aubin, Plant Package Manager says:
'The year ahead will be extremely active, with a great many parallel workfronts developing and the workforce reaching a peak of around 1,400 in the summer months. This will require a great deal of careful planning, supervision and scheduling of activities.
The very dry winter we've just experienced has helped a great deal in maintaining the momentum behind construction, and we're looking to capitalise on the long daylight hours of the summer months.
The accommodation barges at Lerwick inevitably mean more traffic meantime between Lerwick and the site as buses transport workers at times of shift change, and lorries carry materials from warehouses at Lerwick.
The very biggest pieces of equipment for the SGP are delivered to the construction jetty, five miles from the plant, and transported to the site by large, self-propelled modular transporters. We liaise closely and frequently with Sullom Voe Terminal and local residents about these movements and have put measures in place to mitigate their impact. These include the formation of lay-bys to allow traffic to get past the giant loads, and a shuttle bus service from a nearby car park for Sullom Voe staff.
Such a huge construction project in a relatively confined area of course has the potential to generate transport, accommodation and social pressures, but we remain vigilant to those and take every possible step to limit nuisance and inconvenience.
Although we've enjoyed a relatively dry winter, the weather can nevertheless cause problems at any time. Extremely high winds at the site itself have on more than one occasion required us to take the workforce off duty, while fog can impact upon fixed wing flights from Aberdeen and hence disrupt shift changes.'
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