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Hebrides News


Thirty seven years after leaving Arnish the Drillmaster oil rig is to be broken up.

The decommissionin g contract has been awarded to a Shetland yard where it will create 35 jobs.

Renamed the Buchan Alpha after conversion work finished in Stornoway in 1980, the platform pumped almost 150 million barrels of oil until production ceased on 12 May.

Owners, Repsol Sinopec Resources UK, said dismantling will  be carried out by French firm Veolia at its Dales Voe site in Lerwick.

Bill Dunnett, managing director of Repsol Sinopec, said: “Buchan Alpha has made a huge contribution to the UK economy throughout its life, producing more than three times the volume of oil that was originally predicted.

“We are pleased the decommissioning phase will create further sustained value for the UK supply chain and additional employment for Shetland, building a new model for full facility decommissioning in the UK.

Business and Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said “The Scottish Government is committed to supporting Scottish industry to win decommissioning activity such as the Buchan Alpha.

“Decommissioning is an emerging, but growing, activity, with £17.6 billion expected to be spent in the North Sea over the next decade, as mature fields reach this stage in their project lifecycle.”

Always known as the Drillmaster to islanders - the former BP rig, Buchan Alpha, has been working in the same field in the North Sea, some 96 miles east of Aberdeen, since leaving the island.

The five-legged floater arrived at the Arnish yard in October 1978 to convert her into a production rig.

The job was vastly more complex than initially anticipated, increasing costs and creating delays.

Hundreds of people found employment at the yard - then operated by Lewis Offshore, a Fred Olson owned company.

The shallow drafted platform was anchored in Glumaig Harbour during the conversion.

Numerous workers came from the central belt and the north of England.

Chartered planes regularly flew work crews to Stornoway and an accommodation ship was tied up at the quay at Arnish to house personnel.  

The Drillmaster departed as the Buchan Alpha in September 1980 - a year later than originally scheduled.

Stornoway oil rig to be decommissioned in Scotland

4 June 2017