A spokewoman for Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority called a fire Monday at Equinor’s gas plant on the island of Melkøya off Hammerfest “one of the most serious incidents in Norwegian petroleum history.” A full investigation was underway, to find out how it could have begun to burn.
“A fire of this extent is very serious,” Inger Anda of the safety authority (Petroleumstilsynet) told state broadcaster NRK on Tuesday. There were no casualties or injuries, she noted, but the fire could have been dangerous for people on the island, while residents of Hammerfest just across the water were anxious as well.
Now, she noted, “there’s great potential for this to result in a large economic loss.” The plant, which processes gas from the Snow White field around 90 kilometers to the northwest, had to be shut down indefinitely.
It took eight hours for emergency crews to put out the fire. “The most important thing for us is to try to get an overview of what happened and what set this off,” Anda told NRK.
The fire comes on top of 33 gas leaks since the plant opened in 2007, reported NRK, and ranks as the most serious incident in 13 years. Equinor officials promised to make all resources available for the investigation “and contribute the information they need.” Equinor will be conducting its own investigation as well.