Production resumed on November 7th at the Snohvit plant outside Hammerfest in northern Norway after a three-month planned shutdown for upgrading and maintenance.
Running-in this Hammerfest LNG facility on Melkoya to maximum capacity was due to take about 10 days, following extensive refurbishment and modification of the plant.
The work aimed to make the gas processing and liquefaction plant more robust and to ensure that it can maintain a high level of production in the future.
As early as the morning of November 8th, the running-in process was at the point where it could be determined that the replaced and upgraded cooling system components functioned as expected.
However, a technical fault arose that same afternoon in one of the plant's utilities. It was decided to halt the running-in temporarily and to shut down the plant for repairs.
The fault is expected to be fixed within a few days, and the resumption of gas liquefaction will thereafter continue as planned.
The plant ran at virtually full capacity from February until the shutdown began in August, and the project has aimed to safeguard that high level of performance.
Replacing and modifying a number of heat exchangers and other systems will also make the facility more robust against production interruptions.
Among the big jobs carried out was the replacement of 15 heat exchangers, which form the core of the liquefaction process for the Snohvit gas.
"We replaced two of seven seawater exchangers, which have caused problems with leaks, as early as last autumn," said operations vice president Knut Henrik Dalland.
During this year's shutdown, a further four of these units were swapped for a more robust type. The seventh could be replaced during the planned turnaround in 2010.
"With pre- and post-shutdown activities, more than 600,000 hours have been worked in connection with this turnaround," reported Dalland.
"That means the operation at Hammerfest LNG has been as big as all the turnarounds on the Norwegian continental shelf put together."
A total of 1,550 people were engaged at the plant during the shutdown. All work included in the original plans was done, and the facility was restarted as planned.
"The organization has done a substantial job which is worthy of respect," said Dalland. He adds that, apart from some undesirable incidents, it is satisfying that the shutdown was completed without serious personal injuries.
Hammerfest LNG is expected to be capable of operating at full capacity after the turnaround, and this will be verified by a performance test at the end of the year.
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