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First LNG cargo departs Norway's Hammerfest since September 2020 fire


Arctic Voyager left LNG facility June 6: cFlow

Two other vessels waiting outside Hammerfest plant

Set to benefit from high European gas prices

  • Author
  • Stuart Elliott
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • LNG Natural Gas Shipping

A cargo of LNG was loaded June 6 at Norway's Hammerfest LNG export facility, Platts cFlow ship and commodity tracking software from S&P Global showed, the first since the plant was shut in September 2020 following a fire.

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The cargo was loaded onto the Arctic Voyager vessel, which is now sailing toward the Baltic Sea.

Two more LNG tankers -- the Arctic Lady and Arctic Princess -- are anchored outside the facility waiting to take cargoes.

State-controlled Equinor, which operates Hammerfest LNG, said on June 2 it had resumed production at the facility with LNG moved to tank at the plant.

It said it would take 4-5 days to fill the storage tanks before the ships could be loaded.

Equinor could not be reached for comment June 7, but said June 2 that at capacity, one ship would leave the plant approximately every five days.

The 4.3 million mt/year capacity Hammerfest LNG facility can supply the equivalent of 18 million cu m/d of gas -- or 6.6 Bcm on an annualized basis.

"With the startup of Hammerfest LNG, we add further volume to the already substantial gas deliveries from Norway," Irene Rummelhoff, Equinor's executive vice president for marketing, midstream and processing, said June 2.

"This is of great significance in a period when predictable and reliable supplies are highly important to many countries and customers," Rummelhoff said.

European buyers

Before the fire, LNG from the Hammerfest plant was traditionally supplied to European importers.

In 2020, the bulk of cargoes exported landed in France, the UK, Poland, Lithuania, Spain and the Netherlands.

Poland and Lithuania sourced much of their LNG from Norway and have had to make alternative arrangements for LNG deliveries since the September 2020 fire.

Last month, Norway's energy ministry said the return of Hammerfest LNG would help support an increase in gas sales in 2022.

The ministry raised its forecast for gas sales in 2022 by 6% to 122 Bcm as operators also continue to produce as much gas as possible to make the most of strong European prices.

The TTF month-ahead price reached a record Eur212.15/MWh on March 8, according to the Platts assessments from S&P Global.

It last assessed on June 6 at Eur81.33/MWh, down on the 2022 average to date of Eur98.05/MWh, but still 215% higher year on year.

A Norwegian gas sales volume level of 122 Bcm would be second only to the record sales of 122.4 Bcm achieved in 2017 and would also be 9% higher than 2021 sales of 113 Bcm.