State oil company Equinor has been hit by yet another accident, this time at a gas plant in Møre og Romsdal where fire broke out Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters feared an explosion but managed to put the fire within an hour.
Around 30 workers were evacuated after the fire reportedly started in a compressor building at the plant at Tjeldbergodden in Aure, north of Kristiansund. The fire unleashed heavy black smoke where Equinor takes in gas from offshore installations and produces methanol. The methanol facility, the largest of its kind in Europe, was shut down immediately.
One local man out fishing in the area told state broaedcaster NRK that he heard a loud noise and could then see “that it started to burn out of a gas pipe.” Police, firefighters and ambulances rushed to the scene, along with an air ambulance helicopter from Trondheim, not least because of the gas “and danger of explosion,” according to Paul Ola Vestre of the fire brigade. Emergency crews managed to extinguish the fire shortly before 4pm and no one was injured.
The cause of the fire remained unclear on Thursday. It was the latest accident in a string of trouble for Equinor this year, including discovery of long-term oil seepage at its huge Mongstad refinery and another fire at its Melkøya gas plant in Hammerfest, which remains closed.