Equinor Expects Hammerfest LNG Plant Fire Repairs to Take up to a Year

fire repairs to last up to 12 months at LNG plant
Equinor's Hammerfest LNG plant - Ole Jørgen Bratland photo courtesy of Equinor

Published Oct 26, 2020 6:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

A month after a fire caused an emergency shutdown of operations at Equinor's Hammerfest LNG plant, the company now says the plan could be offline for up to one year. Equinor, as well as Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority and the police are conducting independent investigations into the fire while the company is also completing surveys of the damage.

The fire reportedly was discovered in one of the plant’s turbines at midday on September 28. By later in the evening, the flames were no longer visible, but the operation continued to cool the plant. While there were no injuries the fire was dramatic to the local community and for a brief time power was lost in the surrounding community.

"The fire at Hammerfest LNG was a serious incident. The various investigations into the incident will be important in order to identify measures that will prevent similar incidents from happening again," says Grete B. Haaland, senior vice president for Equinor's onshore facilities.

Opened in 2007, the plant had been closed earlier in the month when a gas leak was discovered. After the fire was put out, Equinor said it did not believe the fire was related to the leak, but that it would investigating the cause of the fire and if there was any relationship to the gas leak. The PSA also said it would investigate to see if the fire was related to the gas leak.

Equinor reported that its initial survey found that in addition to damage caused by the fire on the air intake on one of the plant's five power turbines, large amounts of seawater used to extinguish the fire damaged other auxiliary systems such as electrical equipment and cables in the plant.

"Although a lot of inspection work remains, and there is still significant uncertainty, our best estimate now is that it may take up until October 1, 2021 to get Hammerfest LNG back into production," says plant director Andreas Sandvik. 

In addition to competing reports to the damage from the fire, Equinor said it will use this period to undertake other maintenance and repair work originally scheduled for 2021. Equinor had recently awarded a bid for a new compression station to compensate for the falling pressure as the Snohvit field ages. Also, Equinor was reported to be considering plans to connect the plant to Norway's hydropower-fed electrical grid, allowing it to cease consuming natural gas as a fuel source