‘At the heart’ – Shell UK boss says Bacton gas terminal will be pivotal in future plans

Shells UK country chairman, Sinead Lynch, said Bacton gas terminal would continue to play an importa

Shells UK country chairman, Sinead Lynch, said Bacton gas terminal would continue to play an important role for the company as it marked 50 years of operations in the UK. Picture: Shell UK - Credit: Shell UK

Global energy giant Shell has underlined its commitment to Norfolk, saying that the coastline remains 'absolutely at the heart' of its North Sea plans.

Former North Norfolk MP Bert Hazell visits Bacton gas terminal after it began operations in 1968. Pi

Former North Norfolk MP Bert Hazell visits Bacton gas terminal after it began operations in 1968. Picture: Archant. - Credit: Archant

As the group marks 50 years of drilling for oil and gas off the East Anglian coast it reaffirmed its allegiance to Bacton gas terminal, which itself celebrated its 50th anniversary last month.

Shell's energy production in the southern North Sea began with the Leman field, 43 miles north-east of Lowestoft, in 1968.

Its operations now include the Bacton terminal, where it employs around 150 people, and the Clipper installation, 46 miles north-east of Bacton.

The group has four strategic hubs in the UK, including Bacton, which has had £300m worth of investment ploughed into it in recent years.

Sinead Lynch, Shell UK country chairman, said the north Norfolk facility would continue to be pivotal as the group explores new development opportunities in the southern North Sea.

"We are focused on operational efficiency, generating competitive resources, maximising recovery of the resources we already have and looking forward to where the next opportunity for development will be in the basin," she said.

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"We will make sure we put the investment [into Bacton] to make sure it can be used to its full potential for many years to come."

She added: "It is quite an exciting time for oil and gas in the UK, especially with 50 years of Bacton and we look forward to it continuing its contribution to the sector."

Like many energy companies Shell is starting to explore opportunities with tight gas - a notoriously difficult resource to access. Supported by new technologies, it has drilled a number of development wells into tight gas reservoirs including in the southern North Sea.

It is also exploring opportunities in third party gas, bringing resources tapped by other providers through its pipelines.

Ms Lynch said the Bacton terminal would play a key part in these growth areas, particularly third party gas.

"That is part of the economic recovery plan, access to other people's infrastructure so we can be sure that other smaller platforms can be operated economically," she said.

"We have spent money rejuvenating Bacton terminal over the last number of years so we are open and ready for third party businesses.

"The fact that the discoveries are getting smaller will put a focus among operators and players in the North Sea on collaboration."

Reflecting on 50 years of energy generation

Ms Lynch said Shell's 50th anniversary in the UK was "a moment of quite some size".

"Shell as a company has been in the UK since the 1890s and has been an explorer in the North Sea since the beginning," she said.

"There is a huge amount of passion, hard work and dedication from everyone in order to develop an industry around the UK because I don't think anybody anticipated it would grow to the level it has."

Since drilling began in the North Sea, Ms Lynch said the area has attracted some $300bn of capital investment from the oil and gas industry, including Shell.

"None of that would be possible without our amazing people, whether it is engineers, geologists, geophysicists, accountants or lawyers.

"It is sometimes good to take a step back and look at what we have achieved. At the heart of that has been doing things safely and keeping the environment in mind," she said.

A year with Shell in the North Sea

Shells has thousands of staff working around the North Sea - and managing its offshore operations is a massive logistical challenge. Each year involves, on average:

- 1,680 helicopter flights

- 70,000 passengers moved

- 5,000 cups used per day offshore in the North Sea, meaning 1,798,638 per year

- 2,661 meals served per day, meaning 971,265 per year

- 1,666 Christmas lunches served

- 2,823 ice cream tubs used

- 290,809 bread rolls baked offshore

- 150,000 tonnes shipped