Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Mossmorran: Chemical plant 'must be shut down'

Mossmorran flaring Image copyright Richard Webb
Image caption Flaring is part of the plant's maintenance process

A Fife chemical plant must be shut down if its operators cannot come up with a plan to make it as low carbon as possible, a Green MSP has said.

Mark Ruskell said he could not see how the Mossmorran site was "compatible with the climate change emergency".

Operator Shell said the plant was vital to the UK's energy supply.

ExxonMobil, which also operates a plant at the site, said it had spent £10bn on developing lower-emission energy solutions since 2000.

Mr Ruskell, the Scottish Greens environment and climate spokesman, said Mossmorran needed to be either shut down or a clear investment plan to make it as low carbon as possible published.

"I don't see how the plant is compatible with the climate change emergency.

"Unless operators have a plan to address the emissions then it leaves them in a difficult position.

"There are big questions over the future of the plant.

"They have to address an end point and not just keep going until the supply runs out."

'Honest debate'

He added that since Longannet has been closed down there has been a dramatic drop in emissions and that it was the reason the country was now on track to meet climate change targets.

He added: "A closure would have to be planned so people could be transitioned into new jobs, we need to learn from Longannet.

"We need an honest debate so we can tackle the climate emergency."

Image copyright Stacey McGuinness

A Shell spokesman said: "The Shell Fife NGL plant is a vital part of Scotland and the UK's energy supply, which millions of homeowners and businesses rely on.

"It is operated to high safety and environmental standards. As the energy system evolves, so is our business.

"Shell is supporting the energy transition through research and development, the development of new low carbon products, and our investments in low carbon technologies and ventures."

Stuart Neill, ExxonMobil's external affairs manager, added: "Mr Ruskell calls for honest debate on these issues, which we would encourage.

"In our recent meeting at the Fife Ethylene Plant, Mr Ruskell was unable to demonstrate how, in calling for the closure of Mossmorran, he would maintain high-value employment for the 700 people and their families who rely on Mossmorran for their livelihoods.

"With respect to climate change, ExxonMobil recognises that this is a global issue that requires the collaboration of all stakeholders - governments, companies, consumers and others.

"Since 2000, we have invested £10bn to develop lower-emission energy solutions across our operations.

"We continue to focus our efforts on providing the energy and products the world needs, while simultaneously addressing the risk of climate change by reducing our emissions, helping consumers reduce theirs, and advancing research to find new low-emissions technologies.

"We also continue to support the Paris agreement as an important framework for addressing the risks of climate change."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption ExxonMobil's ethylene cracker plant has been shut down since 12 August

Fife Chamber of Commerce said the environment should be protected in a way which ensures businesses remain viable.

Chief executive Alan Mitchell said: "The plant is a massive contributor to the Fife economy through the hundreds of well paid jobs it offers local people, the high quality career opportunities it provides for young people in Fife and the income it generates for many local companies in its supply chain.

"Climate change needs to be addressed in a measured way that properly balances the economy and the environment.

"The Scottish government has made tackling the climate emergency its priority and this will be reflected in the standards that are levied on businesses to ensure they reduce their environmental impact while still being commercially viable."

Currently Exxonmobil is temporarily shutdown while two of its three boilers have parts renewed and repaired.

The company said it expected to resume operations during the fourth quarter of the year - between October and December after shutting on 12 August.

Last week it emerged that Scotland's environmental regulator Sepa has received almost 1,400 complaints about the Mossmorran site.

Both companies had their permits varied and have been told to install flare tips that reduce noise.

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