Equinor Reports Fire at Hammerfest LNG Terminal

equinor hammerfest lng
Image courtesy Equinor

Published Sep 28, 2020 1:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, Equinor's Hammerfest LNG plant sustained a fire, resulting in an emergency shutdown. 

In a statement, Equinor said that it was notified about a fire in a turbine at the Hammerfest LNG at Melkøya, Norway at about 1530 hours. No personnel have been reported injured or missing, and all employees who are not participating in the emergency response have been evacuated. 

Equinor's response team is now working together with Norwegian emergency services to determine the circumstances of the fire. “The situation is unclear, but there are reports of open flames in the production facility,” said Finnmark police district official Leo Johansen, speaking to iFinnmark.

Hammerfest LNG was shut down in accordance with its emergency protocols, and Equinor’s emergency response organization mustered to provide support in handling the situation. The firm said that the appropriate government agencies have been informed of the situation. 

According to Hammerfest Mayor Marianne Sivertsen Naess, the town briefly lost power at about the same time that the fire began. “The whole [of] Hammerfest went dark, but I do not know if or how that was related to the fire," she told NTB. 

Reuters reports that the Melkøya plant had just restarted production today after a 17-day hiatus. An earlier attempt to resume operation on September 13 was halted due to a gas leak. 

Hammerfest LNG began operation in 2007, and it experienced technical challenges in its early years. In 2012, it had to shut down due to a ruptured fire water line. Service interruptions in 2011 drove down production volumes from Equinor's Snohvit gas field, which exports to the Hammerfest LNG plant. 

In a safety audit in 2012, Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) found "several discoveries of violations of the rules that involve critical safety equipment," according to PSA official Inger Anda. The PSA ordered improvements, which were implemented. 

For the future, Equinor has plans to connect the plant to Norway's hydropower-fed electrical grid, allowing it to cease consuming natural gas as a fuel source. The firm has also awarded a bid for a new compression station to boost the falling pressure from the Snohvit field as it declines with age.