Fife Ethylene Plant at Mossmorran has returned to normal production after a six-month closure.
Operators ExxonMobil announced on Friday afternoon the Cowdenbeath plant had been restarted safely and that processes and safety procedures had been fully tested.
Plant manager Jacob McAlister said a series of actions had been taken to significantly reduce the rate of elevated flaring at the facility, following significant concerns raised by the local community.
We are pleased to advise you that we have now returned to normal production. Thank you for your patience while we safely completed this work. You can read more below or at this link:https://t.co/sfTNKNjDwJ pic.twitter.com/L9ZUMukn8F
— exxonmobil_fep (@exxonmobil_fep) February 21, 2020
The breakdown came as Sepa continued its probe into prolonged elevated flaring there earlier in 2019.
ExxonMobil had hoped the plant would reopen before Christmas but Mr McAlister said the process had taken longer than expected.
“While I am sure we would all have liked to have returned to production more quickly, we will never compromise the safety of our staff or the public,” he said.
“We also took a series of actions to significantly reduce the rate of the required elevated flaring, consistent with our commitment to the needs of local communities.
“We will implement any learnings from every part of the re-start process so that we continually improve, and further reduce elevated flaring in the future.”
Mr McAlister made it clear flaring is a safety mechanism and remains a vital part of the plant’s operations.
“We cannot rule out the need to use it in the future,” he said.
“However, the additional work we have conducted during the temporary shut-down is designed to help improve operational reliability and reduce the requirement for unplanned flaring.”
ExxonMobil is currently investing £140 million in its Fife plant. The work, which includes fitting noise-reducing flare tips, will create 850 temporary jobs over the next 12 months.
In August, both ExxonMobil and Shell, which operates Fife Natural Gas Liquids Plant at Mossmorran, were told to deal with unacceptable impacts of flaring as soon as possible.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) served permit variations on both companies requiring them to implement best available techniques in the shortest time frame possible.
A public meeting to discuss concerns over another bout of flaring at the plant last week as the operator attempted a restart takes place at Lochgelly Town Hall from 7pm on Friday.