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GLNG: Skikda LNG plant forced to shut on technical issue

Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach reported at the weekend that it had taken the Skikda LNG plant offline on June 11.
In a statement, Sonatrach attributed the shutdown to technical problems. “A technical issue occurred on June 11 at the Skikda LNG complex and led to the shutdown of this complex,” it said. It described the problem as “a sudden failure of a gas turbine control mechanism” but did not elaborate.
For the time being, the plant will remain offline so that the company can carry out a thorough inspection of the plant and effect any necessary repairs, the statement said. It did not speculate as to when the facility, which processes gas from the Hassi R’Mel fields, might resume operations.
The Skikda plant, located on Algeria’s northern coast, is capable of turning out 4mn tonnes per year (tpy) of LNG. It remained offline for more than half of 2020, powering down in January for a scheduled two-month maintenance programme and then extending the closure until July following the discovery of damage to one of the plant’s 14 turbines in February.
Sonatrach opted last year to repair the turbine rather than replace it, as the replacement process would have kept the Skikda facility out of production for 18 months. It also sought to compensate for the loss of the plant’s capacity by increasing the volume of LNG exported from Arzew, the site of another gas liquefaction plant. Even so, the extension of the maintenance programme caused Algeria’s LNG exports to drop to 10.9mn tonnes in 2020, equivalent to just 43% of the 25.3 tpy operational export capacity of the Skikda and Arzew plants.