Flaring safety

What Happens in a Refinery or Chemical Plant

During regular operations, materials from the refining process are collected and sent to the oil recovery tanks for further processing. There, they are converted into products such as petrol and jet fuel.

For chemical plants, by-products from the chemical process are collected and then further processed. They are then converted into products such as polyethylene or polypropylene (plastics) for industrial and manufacturing use.

How flaring works?

Flaring can occur during a start-up and shutdown of a plant for scheduled maintenance activities or as a result of unplanned operational interruptions, such as a temporary power loss. Flaring happens when gases need to be released to prevent them from accumulating within the equipment and creating a potential danger. The flare is designed to ensure maximum combustion in an environmentally sustainable manner while minimising the release of direct hydrocarbon emissions into the air.

The use of flaring for the safe disposal of hydrocarbons that cannot be processed is widely recognised in the industry as the preferred approach to adopt for safe operations.

Occasionally, a low rumbling sound similar to far-off thunder may be heard as well. This occurs as a result of the mixing of vapours, air and steam during the flaring process.

What is the smoke?

Sometimes the flaring is accompanied by a white cloud at the top of a flare stack. This is steam which is injected into the stack to help in clean combustion. Occasionally, you may also see dark smoke which  occurs when an insufficient amount of steam is available to help burn the hydrocarbons sent to the flare. This may happen when there is a sudden release of hydrocarbons to the system and there is a slight delay in response before sufficient steam can be supplied to the burning process.

The flare system is monitored so that steam flowing to the flares can be adjusted as needed.

Managing Flaring Safely

Shell is committed to operate in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. We take flaring seriously and abide by regulatory limits set by the National Environment Agency on flaring. Flaring is actively managed and our sites strive for zero routine flaring. This way, flaring is kept to those occasions when it is needed as a safety measure.

For more information, please contact us at 6235 3261 (Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm) or e-mail us at tell-shell@shell.com.

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