Norway’s Hammerfest LNG plant extends outage until May 23

The plant in Norway's Arctic has been shut down since a fire in 2020.

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A file photo shows a view of the world’s northernmost liquefied natural gas plant, Equinor-operated Snøhvit LNG, on Melkøya island near Hammerfest, Norway on April 22, 2013. Statoil was renamed Equinor in 2018. (Nerijus Adomaitis / Reuters File Photo)

OSLO — 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.

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

Europe’s only large-scale LNG plant, at Melkøya island just outside the Arctic town of Hammerfest, can process 18 million cubic meters (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 Melkøya, gas is piped in from the offshore Snøhvit field, 160 kilometers (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 kilometers (112 miles) of electrical cables had been replaced.

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