Sullom Voe oil terminal

They (MetEngUK staff) are all professional and polite, and you get honesty from them.


The Shetland Islands Council manages the port at Sullom Voe through the Sullom Voe Harbour Authority, where BP operates one of the largest oil and liquefied gas terminals in Europe.

The Shetland Islands are at the mercy of some of the strongest winds produced by Atlantic storms; the accurate measurement and generation of surface wind data in the Sullom Voe port area is critical for the safe inshore movements of some of the world’s largest oil tankers.


In 1992, when MetEngUK was in its infancy, the Harbour Master at Sullom Voe had noticed that wind data produced by a set of sensors at the port-side occasionally differed in direction by as much as 30 degrees from data provided by the Met Office, who deployed almost identical instrumentation at a site only a few hundred yards from the port-side instruments.

This direction anomaly had previously been investigated by Met Office technical staff, but no conclusive reason for the errors had been discovered.


MetEngUK engineers arrived on site on a Saturday, when the wind system could conveniently be taken out of service.

After an hour or so of investigation, it was discovered that a wiring error had been introduced at the direction sensor (a magslip transmitter) on installation and, in an attempt to eliminate that error, a second wiring fault had been introduced at the display unit.

Because of the phase relationship in the ‘rotary transformer’ system between the transmitter and the display equipment, the direction data were occasionally, but not always, correct.

Both the transmitter and display equipment were correctly rewired, when the direction data compared favourably with that from the nearby Met Office’s system.