* $10 billion project has suffered technical setbacks
* Company denies report of explosion at plant
* Says restart time to be determined by investigation
By Shrikesh Laxmidas
LUANDA, April 25 Angola's new liquefied natural
gas (LNG) plant has been forced to shut down production due to
unspecified technical problems, a spokesman said on Friday, but
he denied a report of an explosion at the plant.
The spokesman also said it was not yet known when production
will be resumed.
The $10 billion Angola LNG plant, operated by Chevron
, has struggled to boost output since starting up last
year and has suffered setbacks including a compressor leak, a
rig capsize, electrical fires, and pipeline leaks.
"The plant has experienced technical issues which has caused
an unplanned interruption to production," the spokesman said.
"No explosion, fire or injuries were caused as a result of
this unplanned interruption, and the plant was safely shutdown
in a controlled manner," he added.
An investigation into the cause of the technical problems is
"Angola LNG is not able to comment on the next production
date," the spokesman said. "This will be determined by the
He added that the technical problems are being addressed to
allow the plant to continue ramping up production.
Chevron has said it does not expect the plant to operate
above 50 percent capacity this year.
Only a dozen cargoes have been shipped since the first
export in June, frustrating global buyers as Angola initially
promised to alleviate supply shortages while demand grew.
Sources linked to the project told Reuters this week that
Angola LNG had brought forward a two-month maintenance period
initially set to start in July, but did not provide reasons.
Chevron has a 36.4 percent share in the plant, while Angolan
state oil firm Sonangol has 22.8 percent. Other stakeholders
include Total, BP and ENI.
(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)