Building the Shetland Gas Plant, UK Laggan Tormore

Project: £800m engineering, procurement, supply, construction and commissioning contract

Customer: TOTAL E&P UK

Location: Sullom Voe, Shetland Islands, UK

Project Summary

In October 2010 Total E&P UK awarded Petrofac an engineering, procurement supply, construction and commissioning contract to develop the new Shetland gas plant (SGP). The value of the project is in excess of £800 million.

Project highlights:

  • detailed engineering completed across Petrofac engineering centres
  • fabrication completed in three yards now demobbed
  • all 62 modules that make up the plant have been delivered to site, each weighing an average of 250 tonnes
  • pre-commissioning commenced and commissioning team mobilised on site

Site statistics:

The SGP will occupy an area of approximately 540,000m² and the build requires:

  • at peak, a construction workforce of around 2,000
  • a 2.4 km road to access the new plant
  • 39,000 cubic metres of concrete
  • 3,900 tonnes of steel
  • 15,000m of underground GRE pipes
  • 1500 km of electrical and instrument cabling
  • a 90m high flare

The development is entering its final phase as Petrofac prepares to complete the facility ready for handover to site owner Total E&P UK. When complete the SGP will process gas from the Laggan and Tormore fields located 125km North West of the Shetland Islands in water depth of 600m. The gas will then be exported via a new 30” pipeline, to a tie in point 230km south on the existing Frigg pipeline and then on to the St Fergus gas terminal near Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.

One of the key challenges of the contract right from the start was the substantial work required in order to prepare a greenfield site on Shetland for the construction of the new gas processing facilities. The landscape was terraced and the material excavated from the back of each level was then used to extend the front of each terrace, with additional material sourced from local quarries on the island.

At peak times there can be as many as 2,000 people on site. So in addition to building a modern, well-equipped temporary accommodation block with offices, a canteen, recreational centre, medical suite and an all-weather five-a-side football pitch, additional accommodation also had to be sourced. This has included utilising the Island’s hotels – providing direct local economic benefits – and bringing in floating accommodation facilities to Lerwick harbour; a significant logistical challenge.

The onsite project team has been supported by Petrofac’s local office in Aberdeen with the engineering, procurement and construction activities being executed from Petrofac’s Sharjah office in the UAE.

One of the main challenges of the contract has been dealing with the adverse weather conditions. So, to minimise the impact of weather and to ensure increased efficiency, each section of the plant was pre-fabricated and shipped directly to site. The first preassembled rack (PAR) arrived in Shetland in February 2013 building on the main site mechanical work which began in October 2012.

Training and competency

Petrofac has a robust training and competency programme for everyone working on site which includes three separate induction programmes: job specific, health, safety and environment and site specific.

This ensures that everyone on site conducts themselves in a safe and respectful manner and understands what is expected of them.


In parallel to the work on site, the project team has had significant engagement with the local Shetland community. Since the beginning of the project the teams have been involved in activities such as beach clean-ups and the local ‘Up Helly Aa’ festival. We are also the sponsors of Dogs Against Drugs to help boost drug detection capability on the island.