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FLARING is set to begin at Mossmorran as a £140 million upgrade is set to be carried out.
From Thursday, ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd will begin the preparations required to stand down operations at their Fife Ethylene Plant.
The stand down process itself is currently scheduled to begin next Monday, April 12, and will require a limited period of flaring on that day, with an expected two days of ground flare use.
FEP’s latest community statement, from plant manager Martin Burrell, said: “The use of the flare for this activity is fully planned and, as part of its design function, is completely safe.
“We have pro-actively provided our stand down flaring plans, as well as the detail of our community communications, to SEPA.
“We are confident the major upgrade project will help to reduce the frequency of flaring by improving operational reliability.”
“To help minimise any community disruption, we have taken a number of steps ahead of the stand down to reduce required flaring.
“We are currently estimating that we will exit our elevated flare by the end of 12 April – with the size of the flare decreasing relatively quickly during its use.
“After this, we will use the ground flares for around two days with volumes also continuing to decrease during that time.”
Shell has also distributed a community notice ahead of flaring at the neighbouring Fife NGL plant.
Craig Burnett, plant manager, said: “I recently let you know of work we’ll be undertaking at Fife NGL to carry out important, planned investment and maintenance on site, and planned use of the flares to achieve this.
“As I mentioned, a cycle of major investment comes around periodically that requires we shut down processing at the plant for a few weeks in coordination with the pipeline system from the North Sea including the St Fergus plant in Peterhead and the neighbouring Fife Ethylene Plant.
“The work we have planned at Fife NGL includes refurbishments and upgrades to the inlet to the Fife NGL plant from the main pipeline from St. Fergus, and its associated valves. Some of the work will be provided by around 60 contractors. In line with Scottish Government guidance, we have embedded a wide range of stringent measures to help keep workers at the site safe and healthy during COVID-19.
“While simultaneous work and major investment at the neighbouring Fife Ethylene Plant requires shared use of the ground flares on site, we plan to use the Fife NGL elevated flare for low volumes of ethane between April 11 and 15, and then the ground flares between April 15 and 18, as we shut down Fife NGL plant processing so that we can begin work safely. The ground flares are less visible during the day but can cause a glow to be seen locally at night.
“We then plan to reintroduce volumes to the plant on 6 May, and use the Fife NGL elevated flare for low volumes of ethane through the month of May.
“This is for two important reasons: first, to enable methane gas to be separated at St Fergus Gas Plant for the National Grid to supply homes, businesses and power stations at a time when this supply is needed. And second, for the Fife NGL plant to continue the supply of propane, butane, and gasoline that thousands of customers rely on.
“We have taken steps to minimise the volume of product that must go to the flare, and it will be a tiny volume of the reduced flow into the plant. Please be reassured that this flaring will be carefully controlled by our operators and that there is no risk to the local community.
“We continue to keep the regulator SEPA informed of our plans, and liaise with the neighbouring Fife Ethylene Plant.”
Fife Ethylene Plant
· April 8 – FEP begin the initial preparations required to stand down plant operations ahead of £140m upgrade
· April 12 – FEP currently estimates it will complete its elevated flaring by the end of 12 April – with the size of the flare decreasing during its use
· April 12-14 – FEP use the ground flares for around two days with volumes continuing to decrease as the remaining gas leaves the plant
Fife NGL Plant
· April 11-15 – Fife NGL plan to use Fife NGL elevated flare for low volumes of ethane, while ground flares in use by FEP
· April 15-18 – Fife NGL use the ground flares to shut down Fife NGL plant processing to begin work safely