Equinor launches investigation after Hammerfest LNG fire

Norwegian energy giant Equinor said it has started an internal investigation after a fire at its Hammerfest LNG terminal.

To remind, the firm closed the 4.3 mtpa LNG export plant on September 28 following a fire in turbine 4.

Irene Rummelhoff, Equinor’s executive VP of marketing, midstream and processing said the incident at Hammerfest LNG this week was “serious”.

“The fire was dramatic, especially for employees, suppliers and neighbors in Hammerfest, said Rummelhoff.

“We are following up everyone who works at Hammerfest LNG with information about the incident and how we handle it further,” she said.

Working with PSA

Equinor is also looking into findings pointed out by the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) in a recent inspection.

Both are investigating the incident to clarify the course of events and to find triggering and underlying causes.

Equinor had before the fire initiated an investigation of a gas leak that occurred around two weeks ago.

The firm will also investigate if the fire can in any way be related to the leak.

In addition, the investigation will seek to clarify if the power outage in Hammerfest on September 28 was related to the fire.

Start-up in “due course”

Equinor has established a separate project that will assess the condition of the plant and take measures to ensure a “safe start-up in due course.”

“We are now working to map the extent of damages after the fire and will then thoroughly review the technical integrity of the facility. Safety comes first, and we will use the time we need to ensure a safe start-up. It is still too early to say when the operations can resume,” said Rummelhoff.

The Norwegian firm will revert with updated information about the start-up of Hammerfest LNG at a later date.

Waiting for the final PSA report

In the week before the incident, the PSA carried out an inspection of electric systems and major accident preparedness at the facility.

On September 24 the safety body shared a first summary after the inspection.

Here, the PSA informed that they had observed that some items had not been satisfactorily followed up by Equinor since the same type of audit was last carried out in 2017.

“Equinor takes the PSA’s feedback seriously and has already started examining the basis for the findings to address pending items while we wait for the PSA’s final report from the inspection,” said Rummelhoff.

She added that the firm will also evaluate whether the findings are isolated cases or if there is a need to address routines and systems.

The Hammerfest terminal liquefies natural gas from the Snohvit (Snow White) field in the Barents Sea.

Natural gas from Snohvit 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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