Norway’s Equinor working to restart Hammerfest LNG, boosts gas supply to Europe

Norwegian energy group Equinor is still expecting to bring back online its Hammerfest LNG terminal in May, while the firm also revealed plans to boost gas supply to Europe.

The European Union recently announced plans to significantly slash Russian pipeline gas supplies this year by boosting imports of LNG and filling up gas storages.

By diversifying gas supplies, via higher LNG imports and pipeline imports from non-Russian suppliers, Europe could replace 100 bcm of Russian gas imports or some two-thirds by the end of 2022, the European Commission claims.

As the continent looks to secure additional supplies, Equinor and its partners, together with Norwegian authorities, have taken new steps to meet the gas demand in Europe.

Increased production permits would allow Equinor to maintain the high gas production from the Troll, Oseberg and Heidrun fields through the summer months, Equinor said on Wednesday.

The adjusted production permits from the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy allow the Oseberg field to increase its gas exports by around one billion cubic meters in the period up to 30 September.

For the Heidrun field gas exports can increase by 0.4 billion cubic meters for the calendar year 2022, Equinor said.

The firm said that 1.4 billion cubic meters of gas can meet the gas demand of around 1.4 million European homes during a year.

“Highly challenging situation”

Besides increasing supplies, Equinor has also decided to postpone turnarounds on the Oseberg field from May to September this year in order to accelerate production.

“In this highly challenging situation we do our utmost to deliver as much as possible to our customers, enabling them provide homes and companies with gas,” Irene Rummelhoff, Equinor’s executive vice president, marketing, midstream and processing, said.

“We are pleased that we, together with the authorities, our partners and Gassco, now ensure that we can export more gas this summer, while increasing the robustness of gas exports,” Rummelhoff said.

Hammerfest LNG to start exporting LNG again in May

Besides increasing thes supplies, Equinor expects to bring back online its Hammerfest LNG terminal in March this year, following a fire that broke out at the facility in September 2020.

In January, Equnior said it had again delayed the restart of its Hammerfest LNG export plant from March 31 to May 17.

To remind, Equinor closed the 4.3 mtpa Hammerfest LNG plant on September 28, 2020. The fire occurred in turbine 4.

In April last year, the firm said the plant on Melkoya island would remain closed until March 2022 due to the scope of the repairs needed to restore the facility to safe production.

“Hammerfest LNG is also scheduled to come on stream from mid-May, providing more than 6 billion cubic meters of gas per year from the Barents Sea,” Equinor said in the statement on Wednesday.

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.

Prior to the incident, the facility supplied LNG mainly to terminals in Europe but also in Asia.

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