PSA: Hammerfest LNG fire investigation finds Equinor broke safety rules

Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority said it has identified regulation breaches following its investigation into a fire that broke out at Equinor’s Hammerfest LNG plant in September last year.

PSA said it has identified “serious breaches of the regulations.” The safety watchdog revealed the findings of its investigation on Thursday.

To remind, Equinor closed the 4.3 mtpa LNG plant on September 28, 2020 following a fire in turbine 4. The export facility will remain shut until October 1 as Equinor works to repair the plant.

“Technical fire tests and simulation of temperature development in the turbine’s filter housing support the likelihood that the fire broke out because pre-filters in the air intake auto-ignited,” the safety watchdog said.

“The tests indicate that biomass buildups (primarily insects) in the pre-filters may have lowered their auto-ignition temperature,” it said.

The PSA said it has sent a letter to Equinor with several orders attached.

Equinor must now ensure that “knowledge and necessary information available within the company are communicated in a systematic and appropriate manner to operations personnel,” the PSA said.

In addition, Equinor must demonstrate that the Hammerfest LNG plant has “adequate manning and competence to deal with all operating conditions.”

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.

The fuel produced at the facility mainly lands at LNG terminals in Europe but also in Asia.

Equinor is the operator of both the Snohvit field and Hammerfest LNG with a 36.8 percent stake.

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