Orkney Islands Council has given specialist Birmingham-based firm DSM the opportunity to investigate the potential of Lyness on Hoy as a base for North Sea oil and gas decommissioning work.
The project is at an early stage in its development, but council leaders say it has the potential to bring significant inward investment and economic benefits for Orkney.
DSM Demolition, one of the UK’s leading demolition and decommissioning companies, has held early discussions with the authority and visited Lyness to carry out an initial assessment.
DSM believes that Lyness has the capacity to provide a base for their activities in northern Scotland, and that the broad base of skills and resources available locally are of great interest to them.
Council convener Steven Heddle said “This project has the potential to create significant employment.”
He went on to explain “There will be a growing demand for oil and gas decommissioning facilities in the years ahead.
“Lyness and the natural deep-water harbour of Scapa Flow, with their location close to the North Sea, are ideally located to serve as a potential base for work of this kind.
“We now look forward to working with the company.
“Our priorities will be to ensure that Orkney benefits economically and that a development of this type is approached in an environmentally responsible manner, in order that we maintain our excellent track record for stewardship of our local environment and the seas around us.”
Councillor James Stockan, who as well as Chairing the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, represents Stromness and the South Isles, said: “It could result in many benefits, not least in terms of the jobs it could bring to the island and more widely across Orkney.
“Lyness has long played a role as an industrial site, not least as a major naval base through the two world wars, and this project could represent an important new chapter in the area’s history.
“Residents will be kept fully informed, and have plenty of opportunities to ask questions and find out more, as the project develops.”
It was predicted at a major offshore conference in Aberdeen last year that the decommissioning industry could be a new beginning for the struggling UK oil and gas economy.
Costs for retiring end of life platforms are thought to cost tens of billions, money which could go straight to local economies if steps are taken to make the UK a centre for decommissioning.
WWW director Lang Banks said: “It’s been estimated that 285 platforms and over 4,000 oil and gas wells will require to be removed from UK seas over the coming decades, leading a new multi-billion pound decommissioning industry.
“While this particular proposal will of course have to go through all the appropriate planning procedures, with the right kind of support from politicians, Scottish island and coastal communities could secure a big slice of the jobs that will come from cleaning up after the North Sea oil and gas industry.
“In the interests of tackling climate change, science tells us we cannot burn all the oil and gas that remains under the sea. Instead, we need to see a sensible transition away from fossil fuels, harnessing the skills of those currently employed in the sector in clean energy technologies as well as decommissioning.
“If done right it herald the start of a whole new chapter in the economy of the North Sea.”