Flotta Oil Terminal

The Flotta Oil Terminal is an oil processing and storage facility which occupies a 160-ha / 395-acre site in the north of the island of Flotta in Orkney, 11 miles (18 km) south southwest of Kirkwall. Commissioned by the Occidental North Sea Group, comprising the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Allied Chemical, Getty Petroleum and Thomson North Sea, the terminal was officially opened on 11th January 1977 by the Occidental Chairman, Dr. Armand Hammer (1898 - 1990), together with UK Government Energy Secretary Tony Benn (1925 - 2014), who jointly pulled a lever to load oil onto the first tanker. Construction had begun three years previously and the terminal occupies around one-sixth of the total area of the island. It has been owned and operated by Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Limited since 2000.

The facility processes an average of 100,000 barrels (15,898,700 litres) of oil each day (2017). Oil is imported through a 142-mile / 230-km) long pipeline which connects to several production platforms in the North Sea, including Claymore, Duart, Galley, Golden Eagle, Highlander, Petronella, Piper 'B', Scapa, Tartan and Tweedsmuir. This pipeline is 76 cm / 30 inches in diameter.

Processing involves the removal of impurities including hydrogen sulphide, salt and water, and stabilisation by the separation of gas and other light hydrocarbons thus rendering the oil safe to transport. The terminal includes nine immense storage tanks with capacities up to one million barrels (159 million litres / 35 million gallons). Oil is loaded onto tankers for export via a T-shaped jetty which extends into Scapa Flow. The terminal now handles around fifty tankers per year (2016), with capacities of up to 170,000 tonnes, although the largest number in one year was 226 in 1979. More than 2.6 billion barrels of crude had been exported by 2017, with peak production reached on 4th November 1978, when the terminal processed 421,590 barrels (67,027,329 litres) of oil in one day. The separated gas is burned to heat the oil for processing and in turbines which generate electricity for the site.

Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (1925 - 2013) visited in 1980.

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