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Shell Caroline shuts down again

The massive Shell Caroline Gas Complex northwest of Sundre will be off-line for at least the next two weeks following the latest in a series of mechanical problems that have plagued the facility since October.

The massive Shell Caroline Gas Complex northwest of Sundre will be off-line for at least the next two weeks following the latest in a series of mechanical problems that have plagued the facility since October.Company spokesperson Alice Murray says the plant was shut down on Feb. 1 after a problem was identified in the facility's Scot plant catalyst, which is part of the sulphur recovery system.The shutdown occurred in a controlled manner and no sour gas was flared, she said.The $1-billion plant had only been up and running for a few days when the latest shutdown was ordered.A series of mechanical problems has caused the plant to shut down on several occasions over the past four months.ï On Oct. 25 a failure in the facility's sulphur plant forced the shutdown of the entire complex, as well as pipelines leading to and from the plant.ï On Nov. 7, while the plant was still off-line, a detonation occurred in the furnace when crews were attempting to start it up.ï The plant was restarted on Dec. 17 but shut down again four days later after a mechanical problem developed in the facility's sulphur pit.ï Repairs were made and the plant was brought back on line on Jan. 28, running until the Feb. 1 shutdown.Asked how long the latest shutdown is expected to continue, Murray said: ìA couple weeks.îAccording to Shell's website, the Caroline Gas Complex has 120 permanent Shell employees and about 15 contractors. The plant is licensed to process 10.85 million cubic metres of raw gas daily to produce natural gas, natural gas liquids, condensate and sulphur.There have been no reported injuries in any of the incidents at the plant.A company investigation is ongoing into the causes of the breakdowns and there have been no layoffs due to the mishaps, she said.Shell is not saying how much the shutdowns have cost the company, calling the amount proprietary.On Dec. 3 a fire at the Shell Shantz plant, southeast of Sundre, destroyed a 6,000-tonne sulphur tank. Investigators later determined that the fire was caused a leak in a glycol heating pipe.The Shantz facility stores and ships sulphur sent there from the Caroline Gas Complex through one of the world's longest underground liquid sulphur pipelines.



Dan Singleton

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