Why the QCLNG flare flame is so big

IT'S visible from Tannum Sands and even as far away as Seventeen Seventy, but a Bechtel spokesperson was keen to reassure Gladstone residents the large flame at the QCLNG site on Curtis Island is not a permanent fixture of the city's skyline.

"The flare will typically be smaller, smokeless and more consistent in luminosity when the plant is operating and producing LNG for export," the spokesperson said.

"The composition of the gas currently being burnt at QCLNG is predominantly methane - or natural gas - as well as a small quantity of nitrogen."

Nitrogen will only be present at the plant during commissioning phases to remove remaining moisture from the plant's pipes and equipment.

Residents should also prepare themselves for a release of black non-toxic smoke over the coming days.

"During the coming days of commissioning there will be occasional limited flaring of ethylene or propane refrigerant that will temporarily release a non-toxic black smoke," he said.

"Flaring has been occurring at the QCLNG site since August in line with our Environmental Authorities.

"It is the safest and most environmentally friendly way to release gas that cannot be chilled to LNG."

"The only viable alternative would be to vent the gas directly into the atmosphere, which is far less environmentally friendly."

Ruth Geck from the Discovery Coast said the glow on the horizon was large enough to catch the attention of a community 150km away.

"It looks like a fire on the island," she said. "We are at Seventeen Seventy and can see it. It looked huge."