Norway’s Equinor will soon load the first cargo at its 4.3 mtpa Hammerfest LNG export plant since a fire that broke out at the facility in September 2020.
Equinor closed the Hammerfest LNG plant on Melkoya island on September 28, 2020. The fire occurred in turbine 4.
Last week, an Equinor spokesperson told LNG Prime that the plant had resumed operations and started cool down, but it did not produce LNG to tanks.
“The first liquified natural gas (LNG) is now on tank at Melkoya,” Equinor said in a statement on Thursday.
There are three LNG tankers located in the vicinity of the plant, namely Arctic Voyager, Arctic Lady and Arctic Princess.
“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,” Equinor said.
In full production, a ship carrying some 1 TW of energy would leave the LNG plant about every five days, it said.
Hammerfest LNG liquefies natural gas coming from the Snohvit field in the Barents Sea.
Gas reaches Hammerfest LNG via a 160-kilometer gas pipeline which became operational in the autumn of 2007.
Equinor is the operator of both the Snohvit field and Hammerfest LNG with a 36.8 percent stake.
Much-needed supplies for Europe
Prior to the incident, the facility supplied LNG mainly to terminals in Europe but also in Asia.
The restart of the plant comes at a time when European countries are looking to phase out Russian gas supplies.
LNG imports to Europe reached record highs this year and a big part of these additional supplies came from the US.
“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,” Irene Rummelhoff, Equinor’s executive VP for marketing, midstream and processing said in the statement.
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 6.5 billion cubic meters per year, equivalent to the annual gas demand of 6.5 million European households, Equinor said.