NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Deal could mean new life for Lyness oil storage tanks

Outside the access tunnel
Image caption Access to the tunnels is protected by a locked gate and CCTV cameras

A deal has been done which could see the oil tanks at Lyness in Hoy brought back into use.

The underground facility was built just before the start of World War Two to protect stores of oil from German air raids.

Now Scapa Flow Asset Management will carry out feasibility work to see if they can be used as a distribution hub for low sulphur marine gas oil.

The company said their capacity and location could make them ideal.

Image caption Work has begun to assess the state of access ladders to allow a full inspection

The company has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Orkney Islands Council to get access to the huge tanks, which were constructed under a hillside from 1938 onwards.

The last time they were inspected in detail - three years ago - they were said to be in a "remarkable" condition.

David Moir, managing director of SFAML, said: "We aim to commence the initial due diligence process in the next few weeks. Bearing in mind that the tanks have not been utilised commercially for over half a century, this will be potentially challenging.

"However, our initial investigations have led us to believe that this asset does have the potential to serve as a first class, strategically-placed low sulphur fuel hub."

Image caption All the pipe work and infrastructure will have to be assessed
Image caption The complex was built under a hill to protect strategically important oil tanks for the Royal Navy

Gavin Barr, the council's director of development and infrastructure, said: "The potential to bring the tanks back into use has been looked at on a number of occasions over the years and we welcome this latest approach.

"This initial agreement marks a very early stage in the process. It matches how the council has approached potential interest from developers in the past and gives the company access to the underground facility for early feasibility and testing work."

It is expected the results of the investigation will be revealed later this year.

The council said it would consider the next steps after that.

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