Highly awaited LNG plant in Norway restarts after fire

Equinor's plant in Hammerfest in northern Norway, damaged in a September 2020 fire, produces almost 4.65 million tons of LNG per year. [Twitter]

Norway’s sole liquefied natural gas (LNG) unit has been restarted after a 2020 fire and will soon begin production, energy company Equinor said Friday (27 May), a move expected to help increase exports to Europe.

Production at Equinor’s plant in Hammerfest in northern Norway, which makes it possible to deliver gas by ship in liquid form, is to help Europe cut its dependency on Russian gas after its invasion of Ukraine.

Norway is Europe’s second-biggest supplier of natural gas behind Russia.

“We have completed the repair work on the plant, we have completed the testing… and we have now started the cool-down process,” Equinor spokesman Gisle Ledel Johannessen told AFP.

“It will take some time to finalise the cool-down process. The next step is to get the liquefied natural gas on the tanks”, he said.

Johannessen would not specify when that could happen, but said it was “a short time frame”.

The site, damaged in a September 2020 fire, produces almost 4.65 million tonnes of LNG per year, according to Equinor.

Norway announced steps in March to keep its gas production at maximum levels to help Europe reduce its Russian dependency.

Among other things, the Norwegian Petroleum and Energy Ministry agreed to adjust the production licences of three offshore fields so that they can prioritise gas production over oil.

But its exports have been squeezed by production capacities, already churning at maximum levels, and the distribution system via pipelines.

It is hoped the Hammerfest unit will make it possible to increase export volumes.

Norway covers between 20 and 25% of the European Union’s and Britain’s gas needs, while Russia currently supplies around 40%.

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