A fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon at An Equinor-operated industrial complex in Norway that includes Europe's largest ethanol production facility.
The fire erupted at the Tjeldbergodden facility at 2.40pm local time time on Tuesday and, according to the state-controlled operator, was extinguished at 3:40pm.
According to the police department for the More and Romsdal district, there was much smoke associated with the fire.
An Equinor spokesman confirmed that there was a fire in a compressor station and the whole facility was closed down.
The company later said in a statement: "When the fire started, both the air separation plant and the methanol plant were shut down. Personnel at the factory were evacuated and all emergency response procedures were implemented.
"Equinor's emergency response organisation was mustered and authorities were notified.
"Nobody was injured in the fire. We are working to get an overview of the consequences and the cause of the fire."
Norwegian environment group Bellona, which recently released an investigation report on another recent fire at an Equinor’s liquefied natural gas plant,has claimed that the fire at Tjeldbergodden started in a turbine. A turbine is also where the fire at the Hammerfest LNG plant in Melkoya started.
According to information on Equinor’s intranet and seen by Upstream, the fire started in a turbine in the turbogenerator at the compressor station.
Bellona leader Frederic Hauge told Upstream: “We know that Equinor has increased its intervals for routine inspections from 2000 hours to 2500 hours, which is not in line with the turbine supplier’s recommendation."
Equinor has not yet responded to Upstream’s request for a comment on these claims.
The company's statement on the fire, issued around 5pm local time on Wednesday, continued: "Equinor has clear priorities in a crisis. Our first priority is to attend to the people who are involved in the situation, then, the environment and our surroundings, and finally to protect the technical integrity of the plant and our industrial interests."
Equinor recently experienced a serious fire at its Hammerfest LNG plant at Melkoya in Norway's far north. That fire resulted in the facility being closed for at least a year.
The company has also been hit with some criticism over its safety culture in recent months.
The Tjeldbergodden industrial facility at Nordmore comprises three plants — a methanol plant, a gas-receiving terminal and an air separation plant. The facility was officially opened in June 1997.
The methanol plant is the largest in Europe, and when it was first opened, it was the first time natural gas had been used on a large scale for industrial production in Norway.
The production capacity of the methanol plant is around 900,000 tonnes per annum, and gas from the Heidrun field on Haltenbanken is transported via the 250-kilometre, 16-inch Haltenpipe pipeline.
The volumes from Tjeldbergodden account for approximately 25% of total European methanol production and about 10% of consumption. Equinor’s share in the plant is 82.01%, while US independent ConocoPhillips owns 17.99%.