Shell’s Fife Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) plant has warned of occasional short periods of low volume flaring in the coming weeks following the temporary shutdown of the neighbouring Fife Ethylene Plant.
In a community statement issued by Teresa Waddington, plant manager of the Shell operation at the Mossmorran site, she explained that the plant is in a “transitional phase” as it adjusts operations to continue to process following ExxonMobil’s shutdown for maintenance last week.
She said: “In the last few days, the flow of product that comes to us in the gas supply system from the North Sea has been reduced in order that we can stop the supply of ethane to the FEP while it is not operating.
“Due to these unusual circumstances, there have been occasional, short periods of minutes of low volume flaring in the Fife NGL plant’s elevated flare.
“The Fife NGL ground flares have also been in use.
“Looking ahead to the period during which FEP remains shut down, currently estimated to be four weeks, I expect this pattern to continue, regrettably, as we manage the situation.”
As a result, she advised there are likely to be occasional, short periods of flaring in the elevated stacks.
She said: “Due to the absence of steam from FEP, which would allow for clean combustion, this could be smoky for short periods.”
SEPA have been informed of the situation.
Ms Waddington added: “I’d like to emphasise that the elevated flaring will not be continuous during the FEP shutdown period, and that we aim to minimise it.
“We will prioritise use of the Fife NGL ground flares, which are less visible than the elevated flare stacks, so as to minimise the impact on the community.
“I apologise for any inconvenience or concern caused by this flaring. Please rest assured that there is no risk to the local community.”
The advisory statement from the Fife NGL plant comes after the neighbouring Fife Ethylene Plant was forced to shutdown operations last week due to a break down of two of its three boilers.
The maintenance work is expected to take four weeks to complete.
In the days prior to the problems at the ExxonMobil site, Shell had carried out its annual ‘turnaround’ having warned the local community in advance of planned intermittent flaring while staff emptied one of the plant’s processing modules for maintenance.
Ms Waddington said: “Our planning allowed us to manage this process and prioritise use of our ground flares so that we used our elevated flare stack for less than one hour over the 72 hour period we notified.
“The more extensive elevated flaring that followed was as notified by the neighbouring Fife Ethylene Plant.”