Fuel shortage stopping whisky production 015

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By Douglas Walker – Deadline Press and Picture Agency

 

WHISKY production on a Hebridean island is on the brink of standstill after extreme weather prevented fuel being delivered from the mainland.

 

Torrential wind and rain has meant oil tankers have been unable to unload at Islay’s, much maligned, £3million pier, which needs tranquil conditions for landings.

 

The last ship delivery was almost three weeks ago leaving the island reliant on road and ferry supplies.

 

These are expected to run out by the end of the week leaving Islay’s eight distilleries literally running on empty.

 

Problems with dredging and changes to the Bruichladdich harbour have made it near-impossible for the large tanker to dock.

 

With oil suppliers Shell now insisting they only unload during the day, winter delivery is proving near-impossible.

 

Mark Reynier, Managing Director of the Bruichladdich Distillery, says the problem is going to continue until the powers that be take action.

 

He said: “This is the fourth time this year we’ve had such a crisis.

 

“Argyll and Bute council built the new pier last year at a cost £3m – they shouldn’t have bothered.

 

“Shell, who run the deliveries to the island, approved their design so the council feel under no obligation to spend any extra money sorting the problem.

 

“There is only have one tanker in operation and the council see the operation of a second as the solution.

 

“However, Shell say because delivery is so unreliable they refuse to run a second service as it would be a double risk for them.”

 

Mr Reynier says the simple solution to the problem would be to create a £1.5m single point mooring in the bay, which would avoid using the shallow pier.

 

He said: “This is what should have been built in the first place and would have prevented all the problems we are experiencing now.

 

“It is never going to happen though because the council have already spent £3m on the pier and won’t take responsibility.”

 

The local authority recently met with the Scottish Whisky Association and Shell in a bid to solve the distribution problems.

 

A spokeswoman said: “A number of issues were discussed and it was agreed that investigations should take place following on from the dredging, which the Council carried out last month.

 

“We are all working together to try and find a solution.”


A spokesman for the SWA added:
“The industry is concerned about ensuring a sustainable supply of oil to Islay. There is a need for a long-term solution to be reached for the industry.

“We need to identify exactly why there is a problem and how it can be removed.”

 

The status quo means that like last winter, Islay’s distilleries’ face the prospect of halting production because of the fuel shortage.

The Shell tanker docks at Bruichladdich and transfers oil to storage tanks before supplies are taken by road to the distilleries.  Oil is needed to heat the whisky stills and also for other industry on the island.

 

The island produces approximately 40,000 litres of whisky each day equating to 260 barrels of the spirit.

Whisky is an essential industry on Islay, with the eight distilleries producing some of the most famous malt whiskies exported around the world.

 

Bruichladdich, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Ardbeg are among the brands that depend on the island being serviced regularly by the large tankers bringing oil.

 

Shell were last night unavailable for comment.

 

ENDS

 

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