THE Fife Ethylene Plant at Mossmorran could remain shut down for another eight weeks.

ExxonMobil said it's likely to be November before their site is up and running again after boiler failure in mid-August.

The company, and neighbours Shell UK who run the Fife NGL Plant, have been heavily criticised for unplanned flaring at Mossmorran and the impact those incidents have on local communities.

The shut down is costing the company time and money but ExxonMobil said the prolonged shut down "underlines our commitment to ensuring safe and reliable operations".

A community update by plant manager Jacob McAlister said: "Our operations remain temporarily shut down.

"We are still finalising timescales, but we estimate returning to operations at some point during the fourth quarter of this year.

"This move gives us the extra time to thoroughly understand and address the mechanical issues with our boilers, while also undertaking a programme of wider preventative work that will further improve reliability when we re-start the plant.

"This temporary shut-down has a significant commercial and operational impact for our company, but it underlines our commitment to ensuring safe and reliable operations."

The company believe it'll be November before the plant starts up again and he added: "Over the coming days, you may see a small amount of steam from our elevated flare stack.

"This is from a temporary steam source we have installed simply to keep equipment warm as we progress our maintenance work.

"Our team continues working 24/7 to complete this work, and we will continue to keep you informed on progress."

Last week the operators at Mossmorran were ordered to “move faster” to deal with the impacts of flaring at the chemical plants.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) served permit variations on both ExxonMobil and Shell UK to lock in compliance at their sites.

The regulator requires both operators to implement the best available techniques in the shortest timeframe possible.

The environment agency were unimpressed by the current plans to upgrade the plant and demanded a reduction in the impacts of flaring on local communities.

SEPA said that flaring, an important safety feature of industrial facilities, must become the “exception rather than routine”.

ExxonMobil has two months to come up with a plan for new ground flare technology, while Shell has until the end of January for a plan for a totally enclosed ground flare system.