Talk of expansion for Australia offshore LNG projects
(The Australian; June 12) - Australia's next offshore gas region - the West Australian Browse Basin - has one $34 billion LNG project under construction and another one, costlier and more controversial, set for an investment decision in the next 12 months. And both - the under-construction Ichthys project being developed at Darwin and the project slated for near Broome - are talking about potential expansions, as Japanese demand for LNG strengthens in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Japan's state-protected energy producer, Inpex, which is building Ichthys, has just lined up a contract to provide an additional five input points on its 550-mile underwater gas pipeline from Browse to Darwin. Woodside Petroleum, which is deciding whether to build its own $40 billion Browse Basin project, is in talks with third parties to double the size of the plant 37 miles north of the tourist centre of Broome. As currently proposed, the plant would move 1.6 billion cubic feet of gas per day.
"The Browse Basin is still considered highly prospective and relatively unexplored," said Bill Townsend of Inpex. Its Ichthys plant is being built to process more than 1.1 billion cubic feet of gas per day through two production trains at Darwin - and there is room at the site to triple that. "Flexibility makes this pipeline strategic; it does enable some of the smaller fields that would not be commercial to be commercialised by tying into our pipeline," Townsend said. "Expansion is the name of the game these days."