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Bantry Bay, on Ireland’s ruggedly beautiful south-west coast, has borne witness to its fair share of conflict and tragedy over the past two centuries. Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone led an aborted attempt at a rebellion there in December 1796; the square in Bantry is still named after him.
More recently, in 1979, the oil tanker Betelgeuse, owned by Total S.A., exploded in Bantry Bay, at the offshore jetty for the oil terminal at Whiddy Island. The explosion and resulting fire claimed the lives of 50 people.
Bantry Bay’s relationship with the oil and gas industry stretches back to the opening of the Whiddy terminal in May 1969. Half a century on, the deepwater facility – with a capacity of 1,400,000 cbm (8.8 million barrels) and a deep 30m draft – remains a critical commercial link in north-west Europe for crude and refined products, and an important part of Ireland’s strategic petroleum reserve.
“Bantry Bay provides logistical advantages and optionality to distribute crude because the terminal is able to receive very large crude carriers and is close to all of the major European refining centres in the UK, ARA, Germany, and the Mediterranean,” states Jay Reynolds, chief commercial officer at Zenith Energy Management LLC, which acquired the terminal from Phillips 66 in February 2015.