Shell PLC subsidiary AS Norske Shell has extended planned maintenance work amid an unplanned interruption at the Gassco AS-operated Nyhamna natural gas processing plant and export hub in Aukura municipality on Norway’s northwestern coast.
During scheduled maintenance work June 12 to clean a water-based cooling system in the Nyhamna plant, a gas formation with hydrogen was discovered, leading to a precautionary stoppage of all non-critical works at the plant, Shell said in a release.
The gas formed in the cooling system is not related to the natural gas usually processed and exported from Nyhamna, the company said.
Shell confirmed Nyhamna remains shut down, with no hydrocarbons currently in circulation.
“Our most important priority is that our employees and contractors have a safe working situation,” Shell said, adding that the incident will have “consequences for the [originally] planned startup of the [plant]” following the scheduled maintenance audit.
With an investigation now under way to understand the cause and scope of the incident, Shell said it is also working on measures to normalize the system and confirm that work can be safely resumed.
With relevant authorities notified of the gas formation discovery, Shell said it is continuing to work closely with operator Gassco, as well as plant contractors and suppliers, to address the issue.
Shell did not reveal further details regarding the incident, nor did it give an anticipated timeframe for when plant operations might resume.
Commissioned in 2007, the Nyhamna plant was initially built as a hub for processing and exporting gas and condensate it received via two 30-in. pipelines from the Norske Shell-operated Ormen Lange deepwater field in 800-1,100 m of water on the Norwegian continental shelf, about 120 km northwest of Kristiansund, Norway. With an original nameplate processing capacity of 70 million cu m/day, the plant was upgraded in 2013-17 to begin receiving additional gas from Equinor ASA-operated Aasta Hansteen and surrounding fields in the Norwegian Sea’s Vøring basin delivered to the Nyhamna terminal by the 482-km Polarled pipeline (OGJ, July 1, 2019, p. 56).
At its expanded capacity of 84 million cu m/day, the Nyhamna onshore plant features a series of processing installations for liquids separation, dehydration, purification, and compression of gas that, post-treatment, is exported along the 1,300-m Langeled pipeline to the UK and continental Europe.