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Norwegian gas group sets up biggest LNG project in Europe

Statoil commenced production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the Hammerfest LNG plant, northern Norway.

After five years and with a cost overrun of 18.8 billion kronor (€2.4 billion, $3.3 billion) of development, the most northerly gas liquefaction plant in the world has come on stream. “Snøhvit is a fantastic industrial adventure we’ve been working on for many years,” says Tim Dodson, acting executive vice president for Exploration & Production Norway (EPN). “The start-up of LNG production 24 years after the discovery of the Barents Sea’s Snøhvit field is one of the absolute highlights in the project.” He thanks all those who have been part of constructing, testing and starting up the plant, for a magnificent effort. Dodson emphasizes that it will take a few months for it to reach stable production. “The first phase will be characterised by instability,” he says. “We must expect that the plant will again be closed for shorter or longer periods for further adjustments to the process.”

The Hammerfest LNG plant at Melkøya is the biggest of its kind in Europe, and the most energy efficient in the world. At the heart of the plant is the cooling system based on technology developed in collaboration between Statoil and Linde. The German industrial group has also been the main contractor during the development phase. On 21 August the valves were opened on the Snøhvit wells in the Barents Sea and gas flowed through the 143-kilometers pipeline to land and in to the plant at Melkøya, where the well flow is separated into natural gas and condensate. The gas flow is then cleansed of impurities such as carbon dioxide and water. Subsequently the carbon dioxide is returned to the field and injected into the subsurface for deposition. “This is a good, environmental measure based on the experience Statoil has acquired through similar operations on the Sleipner fields in the North Sea,” says Dodson.

The natural gas then undergoes a cooling process where it is gradually cooled to minus 163 degrees Celsius. It is in this process that the gas is transformed into LNG. The LNG is stored on an intermediary basis in two large tanks at Melkøya. When the plant is in full production, one special carrier will arrive at Melkøya every five or six days to collect LNG and transport it to customers in Europe and the USA. “The Hammerfest LNG plant is the largest ever industrial development in north Norway,” Dodson continues. “We have developed the fields in the Tromsø Patch and the Hammerfest LNG plant by implementing technology developed using previous experience from projects in the North and Norwegian Seas, in addition to long-term research and development. In this work, environmental aspects and respect for nature in the far north have played a key role.

Initially fixed at 39.5 billion kronor, ($7.1 billion) the cost of the project ran to 58.3 billion ($10.5 billion), Statoil said. Licensees in the Snøhvit field are Statoil with a 33.53% interest, Petoro (30.00%), Total E&P Norge (18.40%), Gaz de France (12.00%), Hess Norge (3.26%) and RWE Dea with 2.81%. The gas is destined for the American and European markets. (euro-petrole.com, france24.com)