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Melkøya

About Melkøya, Snøhvit, and Hammerfest LNG

Snøhvit is a gas and condensate field northwest of Hammerfest in Northern Norway. It was the first field development in the Barents Sea, after its discovery in 1984. Production began in August 2007.

Hammerfest LNG an onshore plant on the island of Melkøya which receives and processes the natural gas from Snøhvit through a 143 km pipeline from the Barents Sea. The plant cools the gas to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) so that it can be shipped abroad.

Hammerfest LNG plant on Melkøya. Photo: Ole Jørgen Bratland, Equinor

The Snøhvit field

Snøhvit is a gas and condensate field northwest of Hammerfest in Northern Norway. It was the first development in the southern Barents Sea and was the first major development on the Norwegian continental shelf with no surface installations.

The well stream is transported in a 143-kilometre pipeline for processing to liquid natural gas (LNG) at the Melkøya onshore facility near Hammerfest. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is separated and returned to the field by pipeline for injection into the aquifer (CCS), while LNG, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and condensates are shipped to market.

A total of 16 wells have been drilled on the Snøhvit field, 14 producers and two wells for reinjecting carbon dioxide (CO2). The plant on Melkøya captures CO2  from the well stream, before returning it to the field far below the seabed. 700,000 tonnes of CO2 are captured and stored each year, equivalent to the emissions from 400,000 cars.

Map of the Snøhvit field showing Hammerfest in Northern Norway

Map of the Snøhvit field showing Hammerfest in Northern Norway

Hammerfest LNG at Melkøya

Hammerfest LNG, Melkøya

The Hammerfest LNG plant, situated on the island of Melkøya, was Europe's first export facility for liquefied natural gas and plays a significant role in the European energy landscape. It commenced operations in 2007.

The LNG plant processes gas from Snøhvit to produce liquefied natural gas, which is then exported chiefly to European markets. Its production capacity stands at around 6.5 billion cubic metres of LNG annually.

History and facts on the Snøhvit field

Gas from the Snøhvit and Albatross reservoirs came on stream in 2007, while Askeladd came on stream in December 2022.

Snøhvit production has now reached the plateau phase. After the field came onstream, several production wells have been drilled in various structures. After the successful completion of the Cold Return project (bringing the LNG plant back online), production resumed in June 2022.

Location: Blocks 7120 og 7121 in the Barents Sea
Production date: 21 August 2007
Production: Gas

Facts about Hammerfest LNG

Hammerfest LNG commenced production in 2007. About 500 people work at the plant, including apprentices and contractors. Including spin-off effects, Hammerfest LNG employs a total of about 900 people in North Norway.

85 per cent of the revenues from Melkøya go to the Treasury through taxes and direct ownership (Petoro). In addition, there is the government's dividend on Equinor shares.

Every year, Hammerfest LNG contributes NOK 170 million in property tax to Hammerfest municipality. Snøhvit Future extends these revenues for the municipality beyond 2030 – in addition to increasing them by about 30 percent.

  1. Every day, Hammerfest LNG contributes to 6.5 million households having light and heat in their homes, and production from Melkøya corresponds to 5 per cent of Norway's total exports. LNG ships call at Melkøya every 5 days.
  2. During normal production, Hammerfest LNG delivers 6.5 billion cubic metres of LNG per year. In addition, there areLPG and condensate products.
  3. Hammerfest LNG is Norway's and Europe's first production facility for cooled liquefied natural gas (LNG). The three fields Snøhvit, Askeladd and Albatross are located approx. 143 km from Hammerfest and have been developed with a subsea solution where no installations are visible on the sea surface.
  4. Snøhvit was the first development in the southern Barents Sea and was the first major development on the Norwegian continental shelf without surface installations.
  5. The well stream is transported in a 143-kilometre pipeline for processing into liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the onshore facility on Melkøya near Hammerfest. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is separated and returned to the field by pipeline for injection into the aquifer (CCS), while LNG, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and condensates are shipped to the market.
  • Gas from the Snøhvit and Albatross reservoirs came on stream in 2007, while Askeladd came on stream in December 2022, extending plateau production. The Askeladd West project, which is currently under development, will start in 2025 and will extend the plateau until Snøhvit Future starts up in 2028.