REDUNDANT wartime oil tanks tunnelled into a hillside in Orkney could soon be brought back into action.
Banffshire firm Northern Oils want to use the tanks as a modern-day fuel distribution base.
Orkney Islands Council has agreed to allow Northern Oils the opportunity to investigate whether the tanks – built inside a hill on the island of Hoy – can be used to store and supply marine gas oil.
Six tanks were tunnelled into the hillside above Lyness during the Second World War to give them protection from air raids.
They held up to 132 million litres (114,000 tonnes) of fuel oil for supply to British and Allied warships stationed in Scapa Flow.
Michael Morrison, Business Development Manager with Orkney Marine Services, said: “It was a tremendous feat of engineering and, 60 years later, they appear to be in remarkably good condition.
“We’ve been in discussion with Northern Oils about the tanks’ potential as a base for the storage and distribution of marine gas oil for modern-day shipping.
“It’s an exciting concept we were keen to explore. The proposal is for the company to spend up to year on detailed investigations into the viability of the project – we look forward to the outcome of the work they will now carry out.”
David Wood, Managing Director of Lintmill-based Northern Oils, said: “Orkney is an ideal location for us to establish a fuel distribution hub supplying customers in the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
“Over the coming months we will investigate the logistics of giving these wartime assets a new lease of life.
“There are other options we will consider, but the fact that the tanks are already in place makes Lyness an attractive proposition. Potentially, they could be in operation in a much shorter time than at some of the other locations we are looking at.
“We are very aware that these tanks represent an important historical link with the Second World War. We would be delighted if these national assets from the past could once again carry out the function they were originally built for – but this time in the 21st century.”
The company intends to discuss its plans with the local community at an early stage as part of the work it will undertake at Lyness.
Northern Oils was established in 1967 and initially operated as a small localised lubricants distributor in the North East of Scotland.
The company has since evolved to become a multi-faceted organisation encompassing a group of companies operating internationally in the fuel and lubricant markets.
In the UK, Northern Oils operates from 12 locations supported by a fleet of five coastal tankers and 72 road vehicles, employing 120 staff.