Bressay Development


  • Bressay is seven minutes by ferry from Lerwick, and offers Shetland in miniature - inspiring coastal landscapes, wildlife up close, and sites of historical, natural and adventure interest.  At 11 square miles (28 km2), it is the fifth largest island in Shetland and has a population of around 350.

HIE’s Shetland Area Office works closely with Bressay Development Ltd (BD ltd), one of HIE’s newest CAM anchor organisations, to develop its plan for growth on Bressay. Funding for the LDO post is provided through the Community Capacity Building Programme, and Sharon Anderson was recently recruited to the role.  Here she offers her take on the job so far:

  • "As an island resident, I understand both the challenges for Bressay at present and also the opportunities we have identified as a community. I’m looking forward to working with community reps and other organisations to make happen what’s in our development plan. The most immediate task is finding new tenants for our community hub and working out how we make our café service financially viable in the long term."

  • (L-R) Marion Scollay (Director), Moira Smith (Director), Fiona Stirling (HIE), Sharon Anderson (LDO), Hazel Anderson (Director and Chairperson), Beatrice Lowe (Director and Secretary).

Bressay Development Ltd

Over recent years Bressay has experienced the ongoing challenges of declining and ageing population, alongside remoteness from the market, reducing transport capacity and logistics, high cost of living and limited service provision.

In late 2013, Bressay residents formed a steering group to see what they could do to reverse decline on the island. An extensive community engagement exercise was undertaken resulting in the formation of a Bressay Development Plan.

The steering group formed a not-for-profit company BD ltd, in late 2015. It is run by a volunteer committee of five directors, who are committed to working in partnership with other key organisations on the island such as the community council, hall committee and boating club, to develop community resources and tourism facilities on the island. 

Priorities from the plan include:

  • Developing Bressay as a visitor destination including plans for a caravan and campsite

  • Researching housing needs and identifying solutions

  • Working in partnership with Shetland Islands Council (SIC) to find creative solutions to island transport needs

  • Developing the former school as a viable hub providing a range of community services

  • Using Climate Challenge funds to put in place a community bike service and deliver “Skills for Sustainability” training

Focused action

BD ltd operates a monthly bulky waste removal service, an annual clear up of roadsides and a quarterly community newsletter. They organise regular fundraising events and have produced walk leaflets and a geocache trail. 

Following successful funding bids to Awards for All, SIC and the Climate Challenge Fund, in December 2015 BD ltd took on the lease of the former Bressay Primary School with the aim of securing the building for the community and providing facilities including a café on the island.

The Speldiburn Café in the school's former canteen, named after the burn that passes next to the premises, opened in June 2016, set up by BD ltd following extensive consultation with the Bressay community.  The school's former music room now houses a second hand shop, and a range of classes and workshops have been held in the new hub.  The official opening took place in May 2017 and was covered by the Shetland Times.

  • Chairwoman of BD ltd, Hazel Anderson: "It’s great to see The Speldiburn Café up and running. Our homemade food is attracting visitors and local alike. The café has created some new jobs on Bressay and we are delighted to be employing island residents.

    "We’ve already attracted some regular customers and this is helping keep the service running during the winter months.”

  • Grant Morris (Chef) and Aimee Labourne (Volunteer and Tenant) at the Speldiburn Café.
  • Next steps

There is much to do in Bressay but the development plan coupled with staff and volunteer resources provides a framework for action. There are plans to participate in other learning events and networking opportunities with other community development groups in Shetland. BD ltd recognise that partnership working will be key to realising much of their development plan, and they are beginning to form strong relationships with key organisations such as HIE.

With BD ltd’s commitment and the support of the islanders, work towards ensuring the long term development of Bressay is gathering pace.

  • Picture credits Ben Mullay / HIE

Norwegian oil major Statoil has decided to postpone the Bressay project development, located on the UK continental shelf, due to low oil price environment that is, according to Statoil, “likely to persist over the next one to two years”. 

The Norwegian company became the operator of the Bressay field in 2007 and it holds 81.625% interest, while the remaining 18.375% interest is held by Shell.

After several media reports saying that Statoil is postponing the development of Bressay field, Offshore Energy Today reached out to the Norwegian company seeking confirmation of these reports.

In an e-mail to Offshore Energy Today, Statoil spokesperson said: “Statoil and partner Shell have for many years worked hard to find a profitable development solution for the challenging Bressay asset. We have made significant progress through innovative solutions, and achieved substantial improvements in the business case, compared to earlier development concepts.

“However, in the context of the price and market environment likely to persist over the next one to two years, these improvements are not sufficient to proceed with the project at this time. Statoil and partner Shell have therefore decided to halt the current concept selection process.”

Statoil is the operator of two fields on the UKCS, Bressay and Mariner, with Mariner set for first oil in the second half of 2018.

The spokesperson added: “Statoil remains strongly committed to the UK Continental Shelf. The Mariner field development continues, and we are actively pursuing opportunities to increase value creation from the Mariner area.”

The Bressay heavy oil field was first discovered in 1976, but a combination of technical and commercial challenges has resulted in the long period to mature the discovery to development.

The Bressay discovery stretches over four licences. One of them, P920, was due to expire in July 2014 and is now extended to December 2016.

Recoverable reserves in Bressay are estimated at 100-300 million barrels of oil.

Statoil recently dropped its previous platform solution plans for the Snorre 2040 development, in the Norwegian North Sea, deciding in favor of a subsea solution as a possible development concept. The company said that, through the work on the subsea solution, the level of costs had been significantly reduced.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

Follow Offshore Energy Today

Posted on March 4, 2016 with tags Bressay, Mariner, North Sea, Statoil, UK.

One thought on “Bressay Development

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *