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Mossmorran: Delayed work on elevated flare set to start

Mossmorran flaring.
Mossmorran flaring.

A delayed project to install a noise reducing flare tip at the Mossmorran chemical plant in Fife will start in the coming weeks.

ExxonMobil has confirmed the new flare tip has arrived from Italy and will be fitted at Fife Ethylene Plant near Cowdenbeath “imminently”, following a delay due to the pandemic.

£140m upgrade

It is part of a £140 million upgrade to the plant.

Meanwhile, the oil and gas giant revealed more details about the new enclosed ground flare (EGF) which is expected to be in operation at the site by the end of next year.

Mossmorran flare work begins
An example of an enclosed ground flare. ExxonMobil said the EGF at Mossmorran would include screening to further reduce light and noise.

Mossmorran operators ExxonMobil and Shell, who run the adjacent Fife NGL Plant, have been under increasing pressure to minimise the impact of the complex on local communities.

Operators told to invest

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) ordered the plant operators to invest in technologies that minimised the impact of flaring on local communities after being inundated with complaints.

Local residents have been alarmed by black smoke belching from the elevated stack during flaring episodes and reported sleepless nights caused by light pollution, noise and vibration from the site.

According to ExxonMobil, the £140m investment would increase reliability and prevent unplanned flaring episodes.

The company said additional investment in the EGF would reduce the use of the elevated flare by “at least 98%”.

Mossmorran flare work begins
Red circle shows where the enclosed ground flare is to be built.

Zeeco Europe Ltd was awarded the contract to deliver the ground flare, which is being designed specifically for the Fife plant.

‘Quieter than petrol lawnmower’

ExxonMobil said the EGF would be fitted with an additional screen around its base to further reduce light and noise.

The company said the new technology would reduce the noise created by flaring to “quieter than a petrol lawnmower”.

Meanwhile, the flame would be hidden inside a metal enclosure with a “slight glow” possible on low clouds while it is in use.

Eliminating flaring ‘not possible’

ExxonMobil technical manager Kevin Poot said: “Never flaring is not possible, so when we do need to flare we want to put the EGF in place.

“This ground flare will have a significant impact. It will actually reduce the use of our elevated flare by at least 98%, so that means if we have flaring which takes 100 hours, with this new ground flare we will only need the elevated flare for two hours and the other 98 hours will be covered by the ground flare.

“We have a project team in place with engineers from all over the world including here in Fife, whose focus is to put this ground flare in place as soon as possible.”

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