In the history of Orkney's long association with the sea, the chapter covering the oil years opens in December 1976 with the arrival of the first North Sea crude at a terminal newly built on the island of Flotta.
Fifty square miles of sheltered, deep water designated anchorage, an average of a 24 metre draft and a 30 year impeccable safety record, makes Scapa Flow one of the principle locations in Europe for Ship-to-Ship Operations of the transfer of crude and fuel oils.
Just under four years before 1976 the Occidental consortium, led by the American tycoon Dr Armand Hammer, struck oil around 135 miles south east of Orkney. This was the Piper field and its discovery was soon followed by another named Claymore.
Oxy, as the consortium came to be known, decided to bring the crude ashore by pipeline. The landfall would be Flotta - a choice dictated by the surrounding waters of the Flow. In Oxy's view, the harbour that sheltered the Royal Navy through the first and second world wars had more than proved itself as a safe deep-water anchorage for the tankers that would ship oil and gas processed at the terminal to customers around the world.
Today the terminal is run by Talisman Sinopec Energy (UK) Ltd and receives oil from more fields than at any other time in its history.
Talisman Sinopec Energy (UK) Ltd., Flotta Oil Terminal, Flotta, Orkney, KW16 3NP
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