(Adds Statoil response paragraph 4)
OSLO May 15 A leak at Statoil's
liquefied natural gas plant in the Norwegian Arctic this year
could have caused an explosion, killing workers and seriously
damaging the facility, the Petroleum Safety Authority said on
The four-month investigation also concluded that Statoil
took too long to reduce pressure in the LNG unit as 12 minutes
passed between the sounding of the alarm and the decision to
"Had the hydrocarbon leak ignited, an explosion would have
resulted that could have caused two fatalities," the safety
watchdog said. "An explosion would also have caused damage to
equipment and structures and a lengthy shutdown of the plant."
In response to the regulators' finding, Statoil said it had
introduced a new internal control mechanism to deal with gas
leaks and had inspected other equipment for signs of fault to
avoid future leaks.
The Jan. 5 leak shut the facility for three days and up to
750 kg of gas escaped, the watchdog said.
The plant, in Hammerfest on Norway's northern tip, is
Europe's only gas liquefaction plant. It struggled for much of
last year with reliability issues but has operated with few
problems this year.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; editing by Jane Baird)