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    Equinor Relaunches Methanol Plant After Fire

Summary

The plant accounts for 25% of Europe's methanol production.

by: Joe Murphy

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Equinor Relaunches Methanol Plant After Fire

Norway's Equinor has resumed production at its methanol plant at Tjeldbergodden, after a fire broke out at the facility's compressor building on December 2 last year, leading to its decommissioning.

"The safe start-up preparations have gone according to plan and the facility is now supplying methanol to the market," Equinor said in a statement on February 20.

The Tjeldbergodden plant has been in operation since 1997 and produces up to 900,000 metric tons/year of methanol from gas supplied from the offshore Heidrun field. It accounts for around 25% of Europe's total methanol production and about 10% of its consumption. Equinor operates the facility with a 82% interest, while ConocoPhillips has 18%.

"It takes time to check all technical matters and damage due to the fire. Thorough inspections in the facility, as well as testing and validation of equipment that may have been affected by the fire have been carried out," plant manager Lena Skogly said in a statement. "During these efforts, it's been important to extract learning from the incident and ensure that we have the technical and operative barriers in place before start-up. This painstaking work makes us confident that the facility will produce in a safe and stable manner."

Equinor's investigation of the fire is still underway, as is a separate one by Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority. A more serious fire also occurred at Equinor's Hammerfest LNG terminal late last September. Safety authorities found "serious breaches" of regulations at the facility, which is not expected to come back online until October 2021.