An investigation into a Jan. 5 hydrocarbon leak at Statoil ASA’s Hammerfest LNG facility in northern Norway found that the event “had a big accident potential and could have led to loss of life,” according to a May 15 report from the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA).
The incident—which occurred during normal operation at the process plant on Melkoya Island outside Hammerfest and shut in production for 3 days—resulted in the release of 250-750 kg of gas from the stuffing box of pump 25-PA-103B, PSA reported. “Wear was observed on one of the gaskets in the stuffing box, but its underlying causes were not identified,” it said.
Although the incident didn’t cause personal injuries or material damage, PSA said, “Had the hydrocarbon leak ignited, an explosion would have resulted, which could have caused two fatalities.” One person was reportedly in the immediate vicinity of the leak and another out in the plant “could have affected,” the authority said.
PSA noted that an explosion “would also have caused damage to equipment and structures, and a lengthy shutdown of the plant.”
PSA ordered the company to explain how it would fix the issue in a letter to Statoil.