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High flaring has started at ExxonMobil Chemical’s Fife ethylene plant (FEP) in Mossmorran, Scotland, as the facility resumes operations following its recent closure.
ExxonMobil warned the public to expect increased flaring as part of the restart process. Two boilers at the plant were subject to a breakdown in August and were accompanied by explosions.
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) said it is continuing its deployment of air quality monitoring in various locations surrounding the site.
SEPA senior manager of compliance & beyond Rob Morris said: “We’re clear that compliance with Scotland’s environmental rules is simply non-negotiable. That’s why we’re continuing our twin-track approach to ExxonMobil.
“In addition to continuing our monitoring across the responsible restart of the facility, we’re firmly focused on addressing the root causes of ‘unacceptable’ flaring.”
There is no clarity on how long the high flare will be used. However, the plant’s operators expect to keep it to a minimum.
Construction at Mossmorran, 25 miles north of Edinburgh, began in 1981 and the plant, which has an annual capacity of 830,000t of ethylene, was officially inaugurated by the Queen in 1986.
It was the first facility designed specifically to use natural gas liquids from the North Sea as feedstock.
SEPA expects the plant operators to invest in noise-reducing flare tips and fully enclosed ground flare technologies in order to decrease the impact on situations when flaring is required.
ExxonMobil Chemical, which is required to install noise reducing flare tips in 2020, has committed to optimising timescales to install new ground flares.
The Scottish agency is also working alongside partner agencies with air quality responsibilities to evaluate future needs.