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Equinor’s Melkøya LNG plant closed after fire

29 September 2020

A fire at Equinor’s Melkøya plant, Europe’s only large-scale LNG plant, shut the facility down on September 28 shortly after it had reopened following four weeks of maintenance. There were no reports of injuries after all personnel not participating in the handling of the incident were evacuated.

Melkøya LNG plant - Image: Wikimedia/User: Janter
Melkøya LNG plant - Image: Wikimedia/User: Janter

Equinor said it was notified about a fire in a turbine at 15:30 local time and began an evacuation of the plant. Images taken by local media show flames and dark smoke coming from the plant. The blaze is thought to have broken out in an oil-driven turbine. Equinor has not said what the cause of the fire was.

A statement on Equinor’s website said that the fire was extinguished by 23:30 local time and that the facility had been secured. Work to cool the area where the fire started continued for several more hours, the statement added. Equinor said it would now work to assess the damage from the fire and gain an understanding of the course of events leading up to the incident.

The LNG plant had only restarted production a few hours before the blaze broke out following several weeks of maintenance work. The plant near the town of Hammerfest on Norway’s northern coast was closed on September 11 for a short time due to an outage and was scheduled to restart on September 13. However, a gas leak meant the restart was aborted and pushed back to September 28.

Equinor’s Melkøya LNG plant liquefies natural gas from Norway’s Arctic Snoehvit gas field and is Europe’s only large-scale LNG plant with a capacity to process 18 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas per day.
Equinor has not said when it expects production at Melkøya to restart.

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