Equinor has started an internal investigation into the fire at Hammerfest LNG on 28 September while also following up the incident towards employees and the local community. Equinor is also looking into findings pointed out by the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) in a recent inspection.
“The incident at Hammerfest LNG (HLNG) this week was serious. We are very grateful for the efforts of local emergency services and for the work Equinor’s own emergency response organisation did to put out the fire in a very demanding situation. We are glad that no one was injured in the fire or in fighting it. That is the most important thing for us,” says Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president of Marketing, Midstream and Processing at Equinor.
“The fire was dramatic, especially for employees, suppliers and neighbors in Hammerfest. We are following up everyone who works at Hammerfest LNG with information about the incident and how we handle it further. This work includes town halls and meetings at unit level. In addition, those who feel the need for it can talk to health professionals,” says Rummelhoff.
There is also a need for information about the incident and the plant’s safety measures among the local community.
“The fact that many in Hammerfest have experienced the incident as very dramatic is something that we take very seriously. We have had meetings with local politicians and the local community in Hammerfest to inform and answer questions, and we will continue to engage with the local community in the coming weeks,” says Rummelhoff.
Both the PSA and Equinor are investigating the incident to clarify the course of events and to find triggering and underlying causes and the police is also investigating the incident.
Equinor had before the date of the fire initiated an investigation of a gas leak that occurred around two weeks ago. Although there is no indication of a connection, Equinor 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 28 September was related to the fire.
“Equinors’ and the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway’s investigation will be important in identifying measures that will prevent similar incidents from happening again. We will support the investigation and the police investigation where there is a need for it,” says Rummelhoff.
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,” says Irene Rummelhoff.
Equinor will revert with updated information about the start-up of Hammerfest LNG at a later date.
In the week before the incident, the PSA carried out an inspection of electric systems and major accident preparedness at the facility, and on Thursday 24 September they verbally 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, and that incorrect registrations have been made in the system which is used for following this up.
“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. We will also evaluate whether the findings are isolated cases or if there is a need to address routines and systems,” says Rummelhoff.