Equinor restarts Hammerfest LNG plant after 20-month shutdown

After extensive repairs and improvement work, Hammerfest LNG is back in production after the fire in September 2020. The first LNG is now on tank at Melkøya.

Norway is an important gas supplier to Europe, and the volumes from Hammerfest LNG account for more than 5 percent of Norwegian gas exports. During normal production, Hammerfest LNG delivers around 230 billion cubic feet per year, equivalent to the annual gas demand of 6.5 million European households.

“With the start-up of Hammerfest LNG, we add further volume to the already substantial gas deliveries from Norway. This is of great significance in a period when predictable and reliable supplies are highly important to many countries and customers,” – said Irene Rummelhoff, Equinor’s executive vice president of marketing, midstream, and processing.

Equinor said that safety has been priority number one during the extensive work process, from the identification of the extent of damage to the planning of repairs and improvements, and the implementation of the project. Systematic and targeted work has been performed daily by around 1 000 people, bringing the plant safely back online. A stepwise procedure has been followed in the process toward full production.

“I would like to thank all employees, suppliers, and partners that have done a great job getting the plant ready for safe start-up. This is a huge and complicated task, with much of the project work during a challenging pandemic,”-  Rummelhoff added.

Repairs of sophisticated equipment and compressors have been performed, in addition to a scheduled turnaround and ordinary maintenance. More than 22,000 components have been checked, and 115 miles of electric cables have been replaced. To minimize infection spreading extensive infection control measures and strict distancing rules have been implemented.

The plant is built for operation at minus 163 degrees Celsius, and a controlled and stepwise procedure is followed towards full production.

The LNG tankers Arctic Voyager, Arctic Lady, and Arctic Princess are anchored up outside Melkøya, ready to receive new cargoes from Hammerfest LNG.

Normally, it takes 4-5 days to fill the storage tanks at the plant, before the ships are loaded with LNG for shipping to receiving terminals in various markets. In full production, a ship will leave Melkøya approximately every five days. Each ship contains about 1 TW of energy.

As for Hammerfest LNG, it is Norway’s and Europe’s first large-scale LNG plant, online since 2007. The plant receives gas through a 90-mile pipeline from the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea. At the plant, condensate, water, and CO2 are separated from the well stream before the natural gas is cooled down to a liquid state and stored in dedicated tanks. Cooling down the gas to -163 degrees Celsius reduces its volume 620 times.

The gas is then exported in purpose-built LNG tankers. CO2 is injected and stored in a geological formation below the Snøhvit reservoir. Around 750,000 tonnes of CO2 are removed each year from the well stream and brought back to a suitable reservoir on the Snøhvit field.

Equinor is the operator of Hammerfest with a 36.79 percent stake. Its partners are Petoro, TotalEnergies, Neptune Energy, and Wintershall Dea – they hold 30, 18.4, 12, and 2.81 percent, respectively.

More here: www.equinor.com

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