StatoilHydro Revs Production Back Up at Snohvit

Production from the Snohvit field in the Barents Sea resumed yesterday, Thursday, July 10, after extensive service work comprising 150,000 labor hours.

"We are very pleased to have started production again," noted Morten Svenning and Sivert Vist, start-up managers at the Hammerfest LNG plant.

After a record-quick start-up lasting less than nine hours and involving little flaring, the plant began producing liquefied natural gas on Thursday at about 60% of its design capacity.

This first turnaround is comparable with the service of a new car. Since May 8, 2008, up to a thousand people have worked to thoroughly check the plant and make it as robust as possible. The turnaround is the first planned production shut-down at the Hammerfest LNG plant.

"We have performed all of the work we had planned to do within the time schedule and with no serious incidents," said Geir Hopland, who was in charge of the turnaround.

The problems with the refrigeration unit have been the main area of focus during the turnaround. After start-up last autumn, several of the seawater heat exchangers in the cooling circuits were shown to be insufficiently robust to withstand the force of full production.

"The difficulties are associated with parts of the refrigeration unit and they have nothing to do with the climatic conditions in Hammerfest," emphasised Oystein Michelsen, senior vice president for the operations north cluster in Exploration & Production Norway.

The damaged heat exchangers were repaired during the turnaround and some modifications have been made to pipes. In addition, several extra metering instruments have been installed. These will be used to gain a more detailed picture of what happens inside the refrigeration unit during production.

"The data material will help us when we decide this autumn what we need to do to get the plant in full production," said Hopland.

The goal is to have a solution to the problems ready for the turnaround in the autumn of 2009.