The Norwegian government has approved the Snøhvit partners’ plans for the future operation of Snøhvit and Hammerfest LNG, subject to certain conditions. The approval entails onshore compression from 2028, and electrification of the plant from 2030. “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. The project ensures long-term operation and export from Melkøya towards 2050. We fully understand that there have been many factors to consider, and we will recommend the partnership to meet the conditions for the authorities’ approval,” says Geir Tungesvik, Equinor’s executive vice president for Projects, Drilling & Procurement.
Compared to the partnership’s application, the authorities have postponed the start of electrification by two years, from 2028 to 2030. The plant will continue to run on gas turbines during this period. The approval opens 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. Electrification of Hammerfest LNG will replace today’s gas turbines with electricity from the grid. This reduces CO2 emissions from the plant by around 850,000 tonnes annually. This is the most substantial individual emission reduction decision that has been made aimed at decarbonising oil and gas production in Norway. The project is an important contribution towards the energy transition. The Snøhvit partners are investing NOK 13.2 billion (2022) in the Snøhvit Future project. “The project generates substantial spin-offs and jobs both in Finnmark, Northern Norway and nationally. Around 70% of value creation in the development phase is expected to go to Norwegian companies. Regional employment is estimated at almost 1,700 person-years of employment, mainly in Finnmark,” says Tungesvik. The approval of Snøhvit Future ensures continued operation on Melkøya. Today, 350 permanent employees and 150 contractors and apprentices work at the plant, and the ripple effects in Northern Norway have been documented by Bodø Science Park at almost 900 person-years of employment. The Snøhvit Future project triggers an increased need for power and a strengthened grid. Today, the government has also approved Statnett’s licence application for a power cable (420 kV) between Skaidi and Hyggevatn, and Equinor‘s licence application for a power cable (132 kV) between Hyggevatn and Melkøya.
Snøhvit licensees: Equinor Energy AS (36.79%), Petoro AS (30.00%), TotalEnergies EP Norge AS (1.,40%), Neptune Energy Norge AS (12.00%) and Wintershall Dea Norge AS (2.81%).
The Snøhvit Future project
The approval entails an amended plan for development and operation of Snøhvit and an amended plan for installation and operation of Hammerfest LNG. Onshore gas compression provides sufficient flow from the reservoir to maintain high gas exports and jobs at Hammerfest LNG beyond 2030. Electrification will replace today’s gas turbines with electricity from the power grid from 2030. The development will require major modifications both on Melkøya and onshore. Three large modules will be installed at the plant: a compressor, substation and electric steam boilers, and extensive modification work will also be carried out. A tunnel will be built for power cables from Hyggevatn to Meland. From Meland, cables will be placed and buried on the seabed over to Melkøya.
For 15 years, Hammerfest LNG has been one of the world’s most energy-efficient LNG plants, supplying liquified natural gas to customers worldwide.
During normal production, Hammerfest LNG accounts for 5 percent of all Norwegian gas exports, equivalent to the energy demands of around 6.5 million European households.