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Gas plant flare stack lights up for New Year

A photo of the gas plant flare stack lit for the first time on Thursday morning.

FRENCH oil giant Total have dampened down excitement at the sight of the flare stack at their newly built Shetland Gas Plant being lit for the first time on Thursday.

A company spokesman said that despite promises the plant would start taking gas from the massive Laggan-Tormore field west of Shetland by the end of the year, production has yet to begin.

However the company has been clearing the pipelines ready to take new gas, which is why preliminary flaring has taken place.

Before gas can be transported, the pipe has to be cleared of nitrogen using gas from Total’s Alwyn field in the North Sea.

The gas seen being flared off on Thursday was Alwyn gas, but is also a sign the gas plant is almost ready to be commissioned 18 months behind schedule.

A spokesman said: “Today, Total lit the flare at the Shetland Gas Plant.

“This is not the beginning of production from Laggan-Tormore, it is part of the process before start-up where we use gas from one of our North Sea platforms to ensure the Gas Plant is ready.

“Today was a positive step forward and we anticipate start-up will follow shortly.”

Before Christmas construction firm Petrofac released many of its workers who had been building the gas plant.