What is Mossmorran?

Mossmorran is the name of an area in Fife near Cowdenbeath, 20 km north of Edinburgh. The Mossmorran complex consists of two neighbouring plants: the Fife Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) Plant operated by Shell U.K. Limited and the Fife Ethylene Plant operated by ExxonMobil. They both link by pipeline to a marine terminal at Braefoot Bay, where products are loaded onto ships.

What do the plants do?

The Shell Fife NGL plant operates around the clock, every day of the year to process energy products. Through heating and cooling processes, the Shell plant separates gas and associated liquids taken from under the North Sea into propane, butane, and natural gasoline, which are used every day by people, homes and businesses, and ethane which is supplied to a neighbouring plant. 

The Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP) operated by ExxonMobil converts the ethane into ethylene. Ethylene is the base material for the manufacture of plastics used in food packaging, medical equipment, car parts and many more products in our lives.

Propane, Butane, Gasoline

These are used in:

  • Heating for houses not on the gas grid
  • Car tyres
  • Aerosol sprays such as deodorants
  •  BBQs and cookers

Ethane, made into Ethylene

Is used in products such as:

  • Car windscreens
  • Food packaging
  • Anaesthetic for medical procedures
  • Detergents

Why does the plant matter to the UK?

Shell’s Fife NGL plant at Mossmorran is a critical part of the national energy system because it facilitates the separation of natural gas – methane – from other gases and liquids that come from the North Sea to be fed into the National Grid at St Fergus near Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.

The Shell Fife NGL plant receives and processes the other gases and liquids thereby facilitating the flow of natural gas to homes and businesses. Some 80% of the UK’s homes use natural gas, and gas-fired power stations typically generate a quarter of Britain’s electricity.

Did you know?

It’s estimated North Sea gas keeps more than 2.5 million homes warm with safe and reliable energy supply.

Around 30% of all natural gas used in the UK comes onshore at St Fergus, near Peterhead for processing (by Shell and other plants); typically 20% of this is domestic gas supply, and the rest comes from Norway.

Man wearing glass

How safe and clean is the operation?

The Shell Fife NGL plant operates under some of the highest environmental and safety regulations of any industry, overseen by two regulators. The Health and Safety Executive carry out regular inspections covering all aspects of workplace health and safety. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) oversee our environmental performance, including emissions from the plant. Local air quality data is reviewed by an independent air quality monitoring group run by Fife Council, which has consistently found and reported that emissions from the plants at Mossmorran continue to pose no significant risk to the health of the local community. 

How does Shell U.K’s Fife NGL plant sit with the Shell Group’s aim of helping the transition to lower carbon energy?

Tackling climate change while meeting the world’s energy needs is one of the greatest challenges faced by society. The Shell Group supports the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UK Government’s ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050. Globally, Shell has an ambition to become a net zero emissions energy business by 2050, or sooner.

The plant itself recently reviewed its energy consumption and seeks to identify opportunities to optimise its energy use to reduce emissions. The plant aims to continue to process gas products through the energy transition, meeting customer demand and enabling gas to be fed into the National Grid by providing an outlet for the other gas liquids that come from beneath the seabed.

Gas is the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon and has advantages when used alongside renewables, being able to quickly compensate for dips in solar or wind power, and rapidly respond to surges in demand.

Natural gas can also be important in parts of the economy that are hard to electrify such as the production of iron, steel and cement, which needs gas or oil to produce extremely high temperatures.

Industry pathway to net zero emissions 

In June 2020 Oil and Gas UK, which represents the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, also published its target of halving operational emissions in the next decade – onshore as well as offshore. OGUK has published a pathway to net zero emissions by 2050 making the oil and gas sector one of the first in the UK to establish industry-wide targets and provide details on how they can be achieved.

Shell Fife NGL plant at Mossmorran within the community

Shell’s plant has been a part of the community since 1985 and typically has a workforce of more than 250 people, most of whom live locally, as well as supporting other nearby businesses in the supply chain.

Flaring is occasionally required to run the Shell plant safely, acting like a safety valve when the plant is not in normal processing. At Fife NGL this is typically for hours rather than days. We aim to avoid and minimise flaring and we notify people nearby in advance of planned flaring and as soon as we can for any unplanned events. We continue to invest in ways to further minimise our impact.

The Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP) is a distinct plant operated by a separate company called ExxonMobil. Click this link to go to the Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP) website.

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Health, Safety and Environment

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Find out how we are part of the local community delivering real lasting benefits.

Community Notices and Contact

This area of the website is primarily for residents and the local community. You can find here local notices of our activities on site and in the community, as well as our plant emergency contact and feedback details.