STEPS have been taken to reduce the amount of ethane Shell is being forced to flare while the Mossmorran plant in Fife is closed.

Shell has been left with a surplus of ethane since its customer ExxonMobil temporarily closed the plant in August.

Now Shell bosses said they had switched from powering furnaces with propane to using ethane and reduced the amount of North Sea gas it receives.

Residents said they had not noticed much change in flaring.

But Shell bosses said they had managed to reduce flaring of ethane “significantly” as a result of the new measures, which also include adding ethane into household’s supply of methane.

A Shell spokesman said it was “very unusual” for them to have to take such measures.

ExxonMobil’s plant at the site will be closed until mid-December.