Oil Leak 286 Moray Firth SAC management group – part 2

Following on from our last oil leak, here’s a link to the December 2016 minutes of the MF SAC management group:


This time the Highland Council and CFPA failed to make it – however, MS, SEPA and SNH were all in attendance. Of interest to us,

“Marine Scotland will continue to assess the risks of new ballast water activities, particularly now that the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention will be in force from Sep 2017. Under the Convention’s terms, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments.”

This entered into force on 8th September 2017 although we cannot find any evidence to say that this was actually agreed to by the UK – an interesting question for one of you readers to ask both UK and Scottish Government’s. You can be sure that the marine shipping industry has not geared up to deal with the required D2 standards and as revealed previously it may be 2022 or later by the time they have to do so. That leaves some serious questions regarding a serious issue that doesn’t appear to be being taken seriously despite MS optimism.

There was a nod to STS with this item:

Oil industry and related activities (oil spills)

 Update the “Proposed Guidelines for Dealing with Cetaceans in the Event of an Oil Spill in the Moray Firth, Scotland” and ensure that these are effectively applied in Oil Spill Contingency Plans and exercises throughout the Moray Firth area.

All three parties involved reported that no progress had been made, although the need to complete it is still very pertinent. Existing guideline is being used and referred to in OSCP’s, however it is out of date.

BL noted that oil spills and dolphins were very much in the public eye at the moment – options to discuss further under item 7.”

So, the existing guidelines for dealing with STS are out of date (if you remember, badly oiled cetaceans would be killed). – the bodies charged with updating them have made no progress in doing so but the existing guidelines are still referred to in the oil spill response plans, meaning they are flawed.

Then we get to item 7 – the only mention of STS:

“BL noted that the re-submission of the Port of Cromarty Firth Ship to Ship oil transfer licence application had to address two oil spill scenarios – low level leak and major leak – implying that there may be the potential to extract information from the Ports application and use that to update the dolphin mitigation guidelines. This would result in a much cheaper desk based exercise and perhaps a workshop.”

Apparently no more discussion.

Then we get into member updates:

“PoCF is still feeling the effects of the decline in North Sea Oil and Gas – particularly in the local and wider supply chains. There are currently a total of 14 drilling units laid up in the Firth (8 cold stacked and 7 warm stacked) as well as the Hutton TLP legs. We anticipate at least a further 2 or 3 arrivals to anchorages in the coming months. No subsea construction projects are planned and the next pipe-lay project is not scheduled until the end of 2017.

There were only 2 vessel arrivals to Nigg Oil Terminal in 2016. The STS OTL application is being revised ready for resubmission to MCGA. The Cruise market remains buoyant with an anticipated figure of 91 vessel calls in 2017 (there were 56 in 2016.) This is due factors such as the current unrest in the eastern Mediterranean area.

Though still at a commercially confidential stage, it is hoped that most of the operators in the Firth will feel some benefits of the BOWL project. There is little to report with regards to dredging since the previous meeting with some minor works carried out at Nigg Energy Park in the autumn and PoCF will have some maintenance dredging to carry out in 2017. We are currently planning our 2017 schedule of Hydrographic surveys.”

They must be doing a lot of revision as 10 months later the application still has not been submitted. In fact the CFPA have gone very quiet on STS. Anyone feel like dropping them an email and asking them what they are plans and timetable are?

There was no discussion of STS as far as we can ascertain. Why is this when other development / issues potentially affecting the firth were discussed? Are there sensitivities around the fact that CFPA part fund the group?