As if a fire last month at its Melkøya LNG plant off Hammerfest wasn’t bad enough, Equinor now needs to keep the entire facility shut for up to a year. That adds to the losses and other bad news for Norway’s state oil company, which also faces various investigations into the fire.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) editorialized that Equinor’s credibility is at stake following the fire at the plant that processes gas from the offshore Goliat field northwest of Hammerfest. Police, Norway’s petroleum safety authority and the company itself have all launched probes into the fire, which frightened residents of the city because of the potential for explosions.
In addition to fire damage to one of five turbines at the plant, the company ran out of enough fresh water to battle the flames. That forced used of large amounts of seawater containing salt that also damaged other equipment and cables. The fire blazed for eight hours and authorities have branded it as “dramatic, frightening and an extremely serious incident.”
They’re also not pleased that Equinor failed to follow up on various errors and deficiencies at the plant, some of which had been pointed out by regulators in 2017. State broadcaster NRK has also reported that there have been as many as 178 gas leaks, spills and other fires reported to the authorities since the plant opened in 2007.
It’s the latest in a string of bad news coming out of Equinor this year. Company leaders have also been called in to testify at a hearing next week on heavy losses at its US operations. The company reported more losses for the third quarter on Thursday.