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An oil rig converted in Stornoway has arrived in Shetland for scrapping.

Known as the Drillmaster to islanders - the 12,000 tonne structure is believed to be the first major North Sea floating production facility to be disposed of in Scotland

The semi-submersible drilling rig was rebuilt for production purposes at the Lewis Offshore yard at Arnish, Stornoway, nearly 40 years ago.

Since then, the pentagon shaped semi-submersible has been working in the same field in the North Sea, some 96 miles east of Aberdeen

The five-legged floater arrived at the Arnish yard in October 1978. The job for BP 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.

She was of the same design to the Alexander L. Kielland which capsized in the Ekofisk oil field in the Norwegian sector, about 200 miles of the east coast of Scotland.

Some 123 people died in that disaster in March 1980 which was caused by cracks in a leg and failed bracings.   

The rig is now moored at the Dales Voe site in Lerwick.

Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “I am delighted that we have now seen the safe arrival of the Buchan Alpha in Lerwick.  

“This is great news for Shetland and a clear sign of the opportunities available in this emerging market.  The decommissioning of the Buchan Alpha provides Scotland and our supply chain with the opportunity to demonstrate our skills, capabilities and competitiveness in this area.  

Recycling giant Veolia has won the contract to dismantle the steel structure.

Estelle Brachlianoff of Veolia UK and Ireland said: "We are expecting a growth in the decommissioning market and the Buchan Alpha contract is a significant example of this type of the potential expansion of this sector in Scotland.

“These offshore assets will now be recycled to give them a second, third or even fourth life creating jobs and investment in the local economy.”    


Stornoway oil rig arrives at scrap yard  

14 August 2017