Scapa Flow is the largest natural harbour in Europe and at 125 square miles, is the second largest natural harbour in the World, and is the hub of the oil and gas operations in Orkney waters.
At the centre of Orkneys oil and gas operations is the Flotta Terminal, and since 1977, crude oil has been delivered from the North Sea to the crude oil processing terminal on the island of Flotta, right in the heart of Scapa Flow. Currently operated by Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Limited, the 385 acre site receives both crude oil and LPG at the Terminal via a 210 km pipeline from the Flotta catchment area in the North Sea. The economic benefit to Orkney is considerable, with 179 core crew being employed by the Terminal, many of whom are people living in Orkney.
To the terminal, the Harbour Authority provides towage and pilotage services, 24/7/365 vessel traffic services, counter pollution and conservancy in addition to the sheltered anchorage of Scapa Flow during tanker lay-can dates.
Ship to Ship (STS) operations of crude oil cargo have been conducted in Scapa Flow since 1980.
The deep, sheltered water of Scapa Flow and its sheer expanse at just under 125 square miles and holding around 1 billion cubic metres of water, offers unrivalled sheltered, swell and tidal stream free anchorage in northern Europe.
In 2007 an historic milestone was reached when the World’s first Ship to Ship transfer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) took place in Scapa Flow.
A cargo volume of 133,000 cubic metres, arriving from the Caribbean, was successfully transferred over a two day operation.
There have been several transfers of LNG cargo in Scapa Flow since this historic achievement. In the last decade, over 28 million barrels of crude oil have been transferred via 170 Ship to Ship operations. Marking another historic milestone – in March 2016, Scapa Flow’s first Ship to Ship transfer of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) was successfully completed.
Semi-Submersible, dynamic positioning accommodation vessels first arrived in Scapa Flow on November 29th 2015. The deep sheltered water of Scapa Flow and its geographical proximity to the North Sea and West of Shetland oil and gas fields provides the perfect location for maintenance and crew changes for these vessels which can lie on moorings or in dynamic positioning mode.