The Hammerfest LNG facility. (Credit: Einar Aslaksen / Equinor ASA)
It can produce 6.5 billion cubic metres of gas annually normally. (Credit: Ole Jørgen Bratland / Equinor)
An illustration of Snøhvit Future. (Credit: Equinor ASA)

Hammerfest LNG (HLNG) facility, the first large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Europe, is located on the island of Melkøya outside Hammerfest, Norway.

The plant was developed to receive and process gas from the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea.

The construction work of the €5.4bn project commenced after securing approval from the Norwegian Parliament in 2002, and the facility started production in 2007.

It can produce 6.5 billion cubic metres of gas annually normally, a figure which corresponds to the annual gas demand of 6.5 million European homes.

The project partners are Equinor Energy (36.79%), Petoro (30%), TotalEnergies EP Norge (18.40%), Neptune Energy Norge (12%) and Wintershall Dea Norge (2.81%).

Equinor is the operator of both- the Snøhvit field and Hammerfest LNG.

Plant details

According to Equinor, HLNG can produce 4.65 million tonnes of LNG, 0.34 million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and 0.73 million tonnes of condensate per year.

It is said to be the world’s first LNG facility to feature electric LNG (eLNG) liquefaction trains.

HLNG project was developed to process resources from Snøhvit field comprising Snøhvit, Albatross and Askeladd structures.

Snøhvit and Albatross gas fields became on stream in 2007, while the Askeladd field started production in December 2022.

The first phase of Askeladd will deliver around 18 billion cubic metres of gas and two million cubic metres of condensate via the Hammerfest LNG plant.

The gas from the Snøhvit, Albatross and Askeladd fields is transported to the facility via a 143km gas pipeline.

At the facility, water and carbon dioxide are separated from the stream and the natural gas is cooled to -163 degrees to liquid form and stored in tanks.

The liquefaction plant features three e-drive main refrigeration compressors. They are equipped with high-voltage and high-speed synchronous motors.

Carbon dioxide produced during the liquefaction process is pumped back to production fields in compressed form through a separate pipeline, where it is injected beneath the seabed for permanent storage.

The LNG, LPG and condensates are exported by vessels or vehicles.

The LNG tankers Arctic Voyager, Arctic Lady and Arctic Princess are utilised to ship cargoes from Hammerfest LNG to receiving terminals in various markets.

During full production, one ship will leave the plant every five days with about 1TW of energy.

The facility employs around 500 people, including apprentices and contractors.

Key Contractors involved

In December 2000, Germany’s Linde won a preliminary engineering contract for the plant. The company also supplied key equipment for the LNG terminal.

DYWIDAG Systems International (DSI) was responsible for the supply and installation of 1,650t horizontal and vertical DYWIDAG Post-Tensioning Tendons with accessories.

Solitaire laybarge was responsible for laying the 143km pipeline. The 28-inch diameter line steel pipe has an outer coating of reinforced concrete. The main line is made of around 11,000 pipe sections, each weighing between eight and 10 tonnes.

Aker Stord was contracted to install and hook up the mechanical units on the process barge at the Hammerfest LNG plant.

Siemens Energy provides maintenance services for the drive train at Hammerfest LNG.

Oglaend System delivered stainless steel products to enable Hammerfest LNG Plant to withstand the harsh artic environment. This included around 26,000 metres of Mekano and UNO support systems, 26500 metres of LOE and OE cable ladders, 65,000 metres of cable trays and other accessories and special equipment.

In September 2020, Aibel secured a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract for modification of the Hammerfest LNG plant. This includes the construction of an onshore compression station at the plant and assessing electrification of the facility to minimise the carbon footprint.

Hammerfest LNG fire

In September 2020, Hammerfest LNG suspended operations following a fire in a turbine at the plant. No personnel was injured in the incident, however, it caused substantial damage to the plant, while the use of seawater to douse the fire affected its auxiliary systems.

The plant resumed operations in June 2022 following extensive repairs and improvement work.

Meanwhile, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted investigations on the incident. After receiving the report, Equinor started improving the conditions as indicated in the PSA report.

Hammerfest LNG Plant upgrade

In December 2022, Equinor on behalf of the Snøhvit JV partnership submitted a plan for development and operation (PDO) of Snøhvit Future to the Minister of Petroleum and Energy.

The JV partners agreed to invest NOK13.2bn ($1.3bn) to upgrade the Hammerfest LNG plant.

Overall, Snøhvit Future Project consists of Snøhvit Onshore Compression and Snøhvit Electrification.

The scope of work will include the development of an onshore compressor, transformer station and electric steam boilers; developing a grid connection including a transformer station at Hyggevatn; and delivery of new power capacity from Skaidi to Hammerfest by Statnett.

The development of onshore compressor will help in maintaining sufficient inlet pressure for the LNG plant and ensure high gas exports from HLNG beyond 2030, while the electrification of HLNG will reduce the facility’s carbon dioxide emissions by around 850,000 tonnes per year.

The electrification of the facility will be achieved by replacing the current gas turbine generators with power from the shore.

The works are expected to start from 2028.