London / AFP
French oil and gas company Total officially launched a project off Britain’s remote Shetland Islands on Monday, hailed by London as a “vote of confidence” in the flagging Scottish North Sea oil and gas industry.
The Laggan-Tormore fields are located 600 metres (1,970 feet) under water off Britain’s northernmost outpost. They began production on February 7 and have since ramped up to 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
The Scottish North Sea oil and gas sector has been left reeling from a plunge in oil prices since mid-2014, leading the British government to cut taxes for the industry.
Amber Rudd, the minister for energy and climate change, called the opening of the Shetland project a “vote of confidence in the offshore oil and gas industry”.
“North Sea oil and gas is crucial to our energy mix,” Rudd said in a statement.
“We are 100 percent committed to helping our oil and gas industry attract investment, unlock new potential and remain competitive for the future.”
Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said the project demonstrated the company’s “commitment” to Britain and said it would help the country’s long-term energy security.
“This subsea-to-shore development is the first of its kind in the country and will provide the domestic market with eight percent of its daily gas requirements while enabling the potential for further developments in the West of Shetland area,” Pouyanne said in a statement.
The project is Total’s third production hub in the waters west of the islands. The gas is treated at a plant on the islands before the processed gas is moved to the mainland, around 105 miles (165 kilometres) to the southwest.
Laggan-Tormore is operated by Total with junior partners Denmark-headquartered DONG Energy and British energy company SSE plc.