Finishing touches for Melkøya and “Cold Return”


Safety, mobility, and professionalism have been the key words for the Bilfinger team working at Melkøya for the last few months. The “Cold Return” project has brought on a high level of activity in airy locations, far above ground where critical infrastructure and production equipment need repairs. Personnel within all disciplines have been at work to repair damage and implement modifications at Hammerfest LNG.

“A demanding period is now behind us. Along with our clients, we’ve coordinated the workload and delivered on all orders coming in. Now we’re at the finish line, and we look forward to starting up again with full force on May 17.”, says Sverre Henriksen, project manager of Bilfinger’s activities at Hammerfest LNG.

Diurnal rotations and reestablishment

He has once again taken his everyday covid test, one of the daily procedures at the facilities. The cold February workday is finished, and Sverre tells us the story of the fire at LNG Melkøya in September 2020, and about the seawater that had to be pumped up and used as an extinguisher. The situation brought on mounds of reconstruction work. Bilfinger was involved throughout the process, and a high number of hours were put in. And Sverre has been in charge. Bilfinger has employees working the facilities around the clock in the project known as “Cold Return”.

  • At any given moment, about 250 people are working at the facilities. About 26 of them oversee access technology. In total, around 600 people are in rotation on the project, 60 of them belonging to TT, Henriksen explains. He himself has been working at the facilities since 2008, and for Bilfinger since 2014.
  • Similarly to Equinor’s HSEQ-concept “I am safety”, it is of great importance to Bilfinger that all workers come home in the same condition they were in when they left for work. We have a zero vision on accidents and injuries, and we are continuously working towards that goal along with our clients and employees.

Access technology

The seawater used in the extinguishing process has made its way into pipes, insulation, and electronic equipment. A major clean-up has been necessary, swapping out parts and renewing electronics. In this regard, Bilfinger’s expertise on access technology has been invaluable. Bilfinger Nordics has a ten-year agreement with Equinor, which includes Aibel. The contract was signed in 2016, and Bilfinger has worked at Equinor’s facilities since 2006.

Employees have been working around the clock, putting in countless hours to get the facilities up and running again. Teams of three are working 12 hours on, 12 hours off. In total, 60 people have been on rotation in the field of access technology on the Hammerfest project.

Bilfinger power

Bilfinger Nordics is in a league of its own when it comes to access technology or industrial rope access, meaning to perform tasks using climbing techniques. This work method is becoming increasingly popular as it eliminates the construction of scaffolding when working at significant heights.

  • A strong focus on safety, solid competence and climbing techniques has made us able to deliver our services more efficiently than we would using scaffolding, Sverre explains. He does not hide the fact that working on a gas plant holds a risk of its own. At the plant, daily risk assessments are in order to make sure all workers are up to date, and that they are well informed of the risk factors of their own work and at the facilities in general. The teams meet in advance of each shift for a run-through of “The Bilfinger Way” (A-standard pattern of action) to make sure that all risk factors, both known and unknown, are taken care of for each task. The project is organized with management on location at Hammerfest LNG, and there’s a small degree of “turnover” on executive personnel.

Bilfinger’s reputation is strengthened by the work we do, and we are incredibly proud of our accomplishments. It has been challenging and hectic, but also enjoyable!


Access technology facts:

Access technology (industrial climbing) is a work method for performing assignments at an altitude. Using ropes, the workers safely and efficiently perform their tasks in areas where cranes and scaffolding are either insufficient or too costly. Common tasks for an access technician include:

  • Performing repairs on installations
  • Cleaning and maintaining facilities
  • Perform inspections on installations
  • Working with surface treatment, insulation, piping and mechanical or technical tasks
  • Securing others or leading security work

Bilfinger Nordics has employed just below 200 access technicians within different projects throughout 2021.