Norway's Hammerfest LNG Plant Extends Outage

The Hammerfest LNG plant at Melkøya. (Photo: Øivind Haug / Equinor ASA)
The Hammerfest LNG plant at Melkøya. (Photo: Øivind Haug / Equinor ASA)

Norway's Hammerfest LNG plant is now expected to restart on May 23, six days later than the previous plan and further delaying operations since a fire in 2020, Norwegian gas system manager Gassco and operator Equinor said on Monday.

"During the weekend, a minor fault was discovered on a compressor that needs to be rectified prior to start-up," Equinor said in a statement. Read full story

"The component is now being replaced, and the stepwise process towards operations continues through the week."

Europe's only large-scale LNG plant, at Melkoeya island just outside the Arctic town of Hammerfest, can process 18 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas per day when fully operational.

The plant has been out of service since September 2020 after a blaze that raised concerns about safety practices.  

Restarting operations would be welcome news for Europe, which is scrambling to find alternatives to Russian gas supplies in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

At Melkoeya, gas is piped in from the offshore Snoehvit field, 160 km (100 miles) away in the Barents Sea. The field was forced to shut as a result of the plant's closure.

In January, Equinor said more than 22,000 components had undergone checks since the fire, and that 180 km (112 miles) of electrical cables had been replaced.

The partnership includes Equinor, Petoro AS, TotalEnergies, Neptune Energy and Wintershall Dea.

(Reuters - Reporting by Nora Buli; Editing by Terje Solsvik and Edmund Blair)

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