» Skip to content

Fossil Fuels
Home » Natural Heritage » Our Geological Journey » Fossil Fuels

Fossil Fuels

Yell peat. Copyright Robina Barton. Yell peat. Copyright Robina Barton.ZoomPeat

Blanket bog is almost ubiquitous in Shetland and has provided fuel, in the form of peat, since the earliest human occupation. Peat is particularly concentrated on the island of Yell, which led to it being proposed as a location for a peat-burning power station in the 1970s.

Loading peats, Fetlar. Copyright Shetland Museum and Archives. Loading peats, Fetlar. Copyright Shetland Museum and Archives.ZoomEastern parts of Unst and Fetlar are the only districts where peat is virtually absent, due to the mineral composition of underlying rocks preventing the growth of its main constituent, Sphagnum mosses. For crofters in these areas, their rights to cut peat for fuel were in locations distant to their homes - sometimes even on other islands. This entailed long journeys by pony or boat to bring home the essential fuel.

North Sea Oil and Gas

Exploration during the early 1970s discovered oil and gas to the east and west of Shetland. Shetland’s proximity to these oil and gas fields made it the obvious choice for an onshore terminal and by 1978 Europe's largest oil terminal had been built at Sullom Sullom Voe oil terminal. Copyright Davy Cooper Sullom Voe oil terminal. Copyright Davy CooperZoomVoe. Since then it has received oil and gas piped and shipped from the fields in the Northern North Sea for onward shipment by tanker.

North Sea oil and gas is one of Shetland’s main industries, including the Sullom Voe Terminal and associated support facilities, offshore activities and the relatively new decommissioning enterprises based in the isles.