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Fishing vessel that sank off Shetland narrowly missed BP gas pipeline

27 July 2016

A report by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) established that the Lerwick-registered creel boat Majestic, which foundered 8km off the island of Yell in the Shetlands on 21 January 2016, ended up on the seabed only two metres from a major gas pipeline. The crew of the vessel were rescued by another nearby fishing vessel.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency image of the sunken vessel and sandbags
Maritime and Coastguard Agency image of the sunken vessel and sandbags

BP was forced to lay sandbags on the sea floor to prevent the wreck from toppling onto its Magnus EOR pipeline, which carries natural gas to rigs in the Magnus Field in the North Sea for reinjection into the oil reservoir to increase recoverable reserves.

The 16-metre vessel, which was fishing for crab, sank in about 100 metres of water after its crew failed to hear a bilge flood alarm.

A 500m exclusion zone was established over the site of the Majestic’s wreck and BP deployed a guard vessel to the area. A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) survey identified that Majestic had settled on the seabed 2m from the gas pipeline, with the vessel leaning towards the pipeline.
The ROV was then used to position the sandbags to protect the pipeline.

Magnus EOR takes gas from BP’s deepwater Foinaven and Schiehallion fields west of Shetland and reinjects it into the Magnus reservoir in the North Sea. The enhanced oil recovery project cost BP and its partners around £320 million and its aim is to increase output from Magnus by some 50m barrels of oil.


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