Lerwick Harbour

Britain’s port becoming ‘main’ marine support hub for development of giant oil & gas field

Lerwick Harbour, situated at the crossroads of the North Sea and North-east Atlantic, has been tasked with servicing Equinor’s first development phase of a controversial oil and gas field located on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

Lerwick Harbour

Lerwick Harbour explains that it will act as the “main” marine support hub for the development of the Rosebank field. Equinor and its partner, Ithaca Energy, are investing $3.8 billion in the development of this field, located around 130 kilometers northwest of Shetland. Rosebank is said to contain the largest untapped reserves in UK waters.

As part of the field’s development, subsea wells will be tied back to a redeployed floating production storage and offloading vessel (FPSO), Petrojarl Knarr, with start-up from phase one planned in 2026-2027. With electrification, it is estimated that the Rosebank lifetime upstream CO2 intensity would decrease from 12 kg to about 3 kg CO2/boe.

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Equinor’s contractor, TechnipFMC, is responsible for integrated engineering, procurement, installation, and construction of Rosebank. The subsea production systems, umbilicals, risers, and flowlines it manufactures will be delivered, stored, and mobilized at the deepwater port. In addition, local supply chain companies will support Equinor and its contractors through various work scopes, which is anticipated to sustain and develop local employment opportunities.

Calum Grains, Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, commented: “It is another significant opportunity for Lerwick and Shetland to continue serving the energy sector. We are perfectly positioned to support this project, both in proximity to the field, bringing savings in sailing times, fuel and emissions, and minimizing vessel turnaround time, and with our ready-made facilities, including extensive quaysides and lay down.

“The Rosebank development is an excellent example of how the offshore industry is implementing measures to counter climate change with lowest emissions possible while helping to secure the UK’s energy supplies enroute to net zero.”

At its peak, Rosebank could produce 69,000 barrels of oil or 9,000 tons per day, which is equivalent to 8% of the UK’s entire output between 2026 and 2030. Legal trouble is currently brewing on the horizon for the UK government and Rosebank over climate concerns, as environmental groups have decided to take the government to court over the approval of the field’s development.

The Rosebank project will produce over 21 mmscf of natural gas every day, the equivalent of the daily use of Aberdeen City. This development is expected to lead to £8.1 billion (over $9.8 billion) of total direct investment, of which 78% is likely to be invested in UK-based businesses.