Statoil has shut its Snohvit LNG plant down because of a gas leak, Reuters has reported.
While it is not yet known when the plant will return to production, Statoil Spokesperson Oerjan Heradstveit told the news service: "The situation is now under control and there is no longer a leak."
Located on Melkoya Island off Hammerfest in the Barents Sea, Snohvit LNG began production in 2007 and is Europe’s only LNG-producing plant. It is also Europe’s first export facility. The 4.3mtpa LNG-capacity plant mainly export to Europe and Asia.
The Snohvit field, which is entirely subsea, is located 140km off Norway in water depths ranging from 250 to 340m. Statoil says that nearly 20.8 million cu ft natural gas liquids and condensate are transported through a 143km seabed pipeline to the LNG plant. At the plant, CO2 is separated from the gas, and compressed, liquid CO2 is returned to the field.
The incident comes days after Norwegian news service NRK reported that Statoil planned to invest an additional NOK20 billion (nearly US$2.9 billion) in the plant to increase its production capacity.
The plant has been beset with operational issues since start-up, most recently on 5 January of this year, when Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority investigated a "substantial" gas leak. There was a leak in the processing facility and then, on start-up, a condensation leak occurred during plant run up. Production was also stopped in November 2012 following a power failure.
Calls to Statoil and Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority were not returned at the time of this writing.
Image of the Hammerfest LNG plant from Statoil