Equinor pushes back Hammerfest LNG restart to March 2022

Norway’s Equinor pushed back the restart of its Hammerfest LNG export plant to March next year following new analyses of damages at the facility.

“Due to the comprehensive scope of work and Covid-19 restrictions, the revised estimated start-up date is set to March 31, 2022,” Equinor said on Monday.

To remind, Equinor closed the Hammerfest LNG plant on September 28, 2020 following a fire in turbine 4. It previously expected the facility to remain shut until October 1 this year.

The new move also comes after PSA’s announcement last week saying it has identified regulation breaches following its investigation into the fire that broke out at the facility last year.

The safety watchdog said the investigation has found “serious breaches of the regulations.”

More work and Covid-19

Even though the fire in September 2020 was limited to the air intake of one of the plant’s five big gas turbines, the fire and firefighting caused “substantial damage” to the plant, Equinor said.

“We have worked systematically on getting an overview of the damages and scope of work to bring the plant’s technical condition back to the required standard,” Grete Haaland, Equinor’s senior vice president for onshore plants, said.

“There is still some uncertainty related to the scope of work, however our best start-up estimate is 31 March 2022, based on current knowledge,” Haaland said.

In addition, operational measures to handle the Covid-19 situation have affected the follow-up progress after the fire, Equinor said.

“The project has already introduced several measures that allow us to have fewer workers on site at the same time than previously expected. There is still uncertainty related to how the Covid-19 development will impact the project progress,” Equinor said.

Equinor still working on internal investigation

According to Equinor, seawater during the firefighting could have affected more than 70,000 unique equipment components. Equinor said it has systematically checked all the components after the fire and has prepared a repair plan for securing the plant’s integrity.

Moreover, Equinor says activities related to the replacement of electric cables connected to the power station take most of the time.

Inspections show that more than 180 km of cable must be replaced. Equinor has ordered new cables and they should arrive at Melkoya during this spring/summer.

Equinor added it is still working on its internal investigation of the fire. The company will revert to findings and conclusions when it completes the investigation.

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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