The Norwegian government has approved plans for the Snøhvit Future project, which will ensure future operation of Snøhvit and Hammerfest LNG. Snøhvit is a gas and condensate field northwest of Hammerfest in Northern Norway. Hammerfest LNG is an onshore plant on the island of Melkøya which receives and processes natural gas from Snøhvit through an 88-mile (143-km) pipeline from the Barents Sea. The plant cools the gas to liquefied natural gas (LNG) so that it can be shipped abroad. Its production capacity stands at around 6.5 billion cubic meters of LNG annually.
The Hammerfest LNG plant was Europe’s first LNG export facility, beginning operation in 2007. Snøhvit production is currently in its plateau phase, and to maintain production and extend the life of Hammerfest LNG, it is necessary to upgrade the plant with onshore compression and electrification.
The Snøhvit Future project entails onshore compression from 2028 and electrification of the plant from 2030. Onshore gas compression will provide enough flow from the reservoir to extend plateau production and maintain high gas exports from the Hammerfest LNG plant beyond 2030. According to Equinor, the construction of an onshore compression plant can increase the extraction rate for the Snøhvit field from 45 to 70% of available gas.
Electrification of Hammerfest LNG will replace gas turbines with electricity from the grid. Electrification will reduce CO2 emissions by around 850,000 tonnes per year. Compared to the initial application, the start of electrification has been postponed by two years, from 2028 to 2030. The plant will continue to run on gas turbines during this period. The approval allows the possibility for maintaining the gas turbines for back-up power from 2030 to 2033. The need for this will be assessed by 2028 at the latest.
“The Snøhvit owners are pleased that the government has now approved Snøhvit Future, a project that will strengthen Norway’s position as a reliable, long-term supplier of gas produced with very low greenhouse gas emissions,” said Geir Tungesvik, Equinor’s executive vice president for Projects, Drilling, & Procurement. “The project ensures long-term operation and export from Melkøya towards 2050.”