The recent announcement by Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane that Australia has awarded five new offshore petroleum exploration blocks highlighted the continued growth of Australia’s offshore industry.
One such project is the Basker-Manta project, located in the Gippsland Basin off the Victorian coast, which saw Anzon Australia and Beach Petroleum make their second delivery from the project at the end of March.
The cargo, containing approximately 400,000 bbl of oil, was worth approximately $35 million and was delivered to a Victorian refinery.
Anzon Executive Chairman Steven Koroknay said extended production testing of Basker 2 offered valuable information on the reservoir and the project was on track to be developed, in the second half of this year, into a full field development of five producing wells, one of which will be used as a temporary gas injector.Article continues below…
In April TRUenergy secured an additional gas sales contract with Santos which will see it supplied with a minimum of 5 PJ of sales gas from the Casino gas field, located approximately 30 km offshore from Port Campbell.
The $200 million Casino Gas Project was officially launched in March, with Victoria’s Energy Minister Theo Theophanous dispatching the first full flow of gas from TRUenergy’s Iona Gas Plant. Planned annual production from the Casino gas project is anticipated to plateau at 35 PJ/a based on the proven plus probable gas reserves (2P) of 285 PJ.
The Victorian government has offered a production licence for the Kipper gas field, providing greater certainty for the development with front-end engineering and design expected to commence in the near future.
The Kipper field is located in 100 metres of water, approximately 45 km offshore the Gippsland coast. The operator has confirmed gross resources of approximately 620 Bcf of recoverable gas and 30 MMbbl of condensate and LPG. First gas production from the Kipper field is expected to commence in 2009 subject to corporate funding and approvals.
Another Victorian project, the Woodside-operated Otway Gas Project, is nearing commissioning. Construction started in January on the 11.5 km onshore pipeline with work managed by Technip Oceania and subcontractor AJ Lucas.
The onshore gas plant, 6 km north of Port Campbell, continues to take shape. Currently, the shore crossing has been completed, laying of the 70 km offshore pipelines have been completed and pre-commissioning has started at the onshore gas plant including the condensate and MEG storage tanks.
In Western Australia, the other centre for offshore development, the Angel gas and condensate field was approved for development in December 2005 by the North West Shelf Venture. The project involves the installation of the Venture’s third major offshore production platform and associated infrastructure, including a new 50 km subsea pipeline which will be tied into the North Rankin platform. It is anticipated that the development will be fully operational by the end of 2008.
And in a further boost to Western Australia’s offshore sector, Woodside has flagged the development of the Browse gas reserve and a new LNG facility.
“At this stage we think Browse can support a plant with a capacity of up to 14 MMt/a of LNG…we are confident we can bring it into production in the window of 2011-2014,” said Woodside Chief Executive Don Voelte.
Mr Voelte revealed that Woodside had held discussions with Japanese oil and gas producer Inpex in relation to a joint development proposal of the Browse gas reserves. Inpex is seeking to develop the Ichthys Field, also located within the Browse Basin, as an LNG export facility with a planned first shipment date in 2012. The Ichthys Field LNG development would look to produce 6 MMt/a of LNG.
Meanwhile, first production from the Enfield oil field development is planned for the third quarter despite a delay due to an accident involving the Nganhurra floating production storage and offtake (FPSO) vessel in May. Enfield’s estimated reserves are greater than 125 MMbbl, and production of 100 kbbl/d is expected.
The Chevron led Gorgon project has struck a hurdle with the West Australian Environmental Protection Agency moving to block development of the $11 billion project on the grounds that it could cause serious damage to the ecology of Barrow Island.
This followed the Gorgon partners submitting their final environmental impact statement earlier this year. The process will culminate in a final decision on environmental approval by the state and federal governments.
The moves by the EPA have confirmed that Gorgon is unlikely to meet the original schedule of first production for 2010.
In April Woodside undertook measures to accelerate developments at the Pluto gas field, located 190 km northwest of Karratha.
Woodside estimates the wholly owned Pluto field contains about 3.5 Tcf of gas and plans to bring the project into production in late 2010. The Burrup Industrial Estate on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia has been selected as the site for the Pluto LNG development.
Site works are scheduled to begin in the last quarter of this year after the awarding of the engineering procurement contract in the third quarter.
Exxon Mobil has also recently reversed its long held opposition to BHP Billiton’s proposal to develop the Scarborough gas field off the north-west coast of Western Australia. The gas field is located in the Carnarvon Basin, 280 km off the coast of Western Australia, with Exxon Mobil and BHP Billiton owning 50 per cent each.
Exxon Mobil had previously argued that Scarborough’s reserves were not commercially viable. However, recent appraisal work and completion of a seismic survey at the Scarborough field by BHP has indicated it could hold approximately 8 Tcf of gas. According to analysts the field contains enough gas to support a plant producing 5 to 10 MMt of LNG a year for up to 20 years.
Continuing high world oil prices have continued to drive oil offshore developments. Woodside Petroleum and Japanese investment firm Mitsui are proceeding with the first phase of the Vincent oil field development, located approximately 50 km northwest of Exmouth offshore Western Australia.
Two contracts have been awarded for the development of a Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel for the development of Woodside’s Vincent oil discovery, 50 km northwest of Exmouth in Western Australia. The FPSO will produce about 120,000 bbl/d of oil and 100 MMcf/d of gas, and will be capable of storing 1.9 MMboe.