Based on extensive analyses and mapping of damages, Equinor has updated the schedule for repair and start-up of the LNG plant on Melkøya after the fire on 28 September 2020. Due to the comprehensive scope of work and COVID-19 restrictions, the revised estimated start-up date is set to 31 March 2022.
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.
“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. 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. Safety is our top priority, and we will not start the plant before it can be done safely,” says Grete B. Haaland, Equinor’s senior vice president for onshore plants.
Operational measures to handle the COVID-19 situation have affected the follow-up progress after the fire. The project for planning and carrying out repairs of the Hammerfest LNG plant must always comply with applicable guidelines for handling the infection situation in society. 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.
More than 70,000 unique equipment components were potentially exposed to seawater during the firefighting. The components have been systematically checked after the fire, and a repair plan for securing the plant’s integrity has been prepared.
The most time-consuming activity appears to be the replacement of electric cables connected to the power station where the fire occurred. Inspections show that more than 180 km of cable must be replaced. New cables have been ordered and will arrive Melkøya during this spring/summer.
Other equipment components are being procured for delivery in the summer/autumn of 2021. Several major equipment components, including several compressors, must also be taken out of the plant, and sent to the supplier for repair.
“Employees and suppliers have done a demanding and important job of getting an overview of the damages and making plans for returning the plant safely to operation. We are also very grateful for the support we have received, and is still receiving, from the local community of Hammerfest. The Hammerfest LNG plant has been, and will continue to be, a strong contributor to value creation for the local community and owners,” says Haaland.
Equinor’s internal investigation of the fire is still being conducted. The company will revert to findings and conclusions when the investigation is completed.