Storm slows Snøhvit

January 20, 2006, 00:30 CET

Due to extremely bad weather, Statoil decided to stop work at the Snøhvit gas liquefaction plant on 19 January as a precautionary measure. Work at Melkøya outside Hammerfest in northern Norway will not resume before Monday at the earliest.

“After all work at Melkøya, including office activities, was stopped at 19.00, we brought 1,100 workers to the mainland by bus,” says project director Odd Mosbergvik. “Accommodation was found for personnel in hotels, on flotels and in portacabins. The Nordlys coastal express ship, which had to cancel its route to the east of Finnmark county because of the storm, was also used.”

He emphasises that this is not a dramatic situation.

"We halted the work as a precaution due to the extreme weather conditions and forecast for the next few days. The safety of our workers takes precedence over progress at the plant."

Mr Mosbergvik reports that the operation to transport people from Melkøya to the mainland was conducted safely and efficiently.

Shift personnel who were due to leave Melkøya early next week will be allowed to travel south this weekend.

The situation is being continuously monitored and assessed, and the above-mentioned measures will apply until further notice. While activities at the plant have been halted, the emergency response organisation is ensuring that the necessary security and safety measures are maintained. It is also working to prepare an effective start-up when weather conditions permit.

Since the storm is forecast to continue during the weekend, work will not start up again before Monday morning, 23 January, at the earliest.

A number of companies with employees from many different countries are involved in the construction of the plant at Melkøya. The project organisation embraces more than 2,000 people, of which 150 are Statoil employees. A total of 170 people work in the group's operations organisation.