[AUSTRALIA] ExxonMobil and BHP Billiton apply for new Australian gas project

Both made an initial application to the Australian government for environmental approval for a new production project at the Turrum oil and gas field off the southeast coast.

The Turrum Phase 2 project in the Bass Strait will involve drilling two oil wells and four gas wells and installing a new platform, Marlin-B, to be linked to the existing Marlin-A platform, ExxonMobil's Esso Australia Pty unit, operator of the Exxon-BHP gas venture in Australia, said in the document.

The Gippsland Basin venture supplies more than a third of Australia's east coast gas market from fields in the Bass Strait. ExxonMobil said last year the venture probably has more than 20 years of remaining oil production after a drilling program extended the life of some fields. Melbourne-based BHP Billiton yesterday named Turrum among potential development projects.

"The Turrum Phase 2 development project is being proposed due to the ongoing depletion of gas resources," Esso said in the application, a copy of which was published this week on the Australian environment department's Web site. The project should "assist continuity of supply," it said.

Oil production from Turrum may start in the third quarter of 2011, with gas output set to commence in 2015, Esso said in the application. The installation of the platform may begin in the second quarter of 2010, it said. The first phase of the Turrum project started in 2004.

The proposed project is going through the regulatory approvals process and initial engineering and design work is being carried out, Gemma Allman, a spokeswoman for ExxonMobil in Melbourne, said in an e-mail. She didn't say when the project may be approved for development or how much it would cost. ExxonMobil and BHP Billiton each own 50 percent of the Gippsland Basin venture.

Turrum may cost between $501 million and $2 billion, according to a BHP Billiton presentation sent yesterday to the Australian stock exchange. BHP Billiton spokeswoman Emma Meade couldn't comment.

The Turrum field, about 26 miles) off Ninety Mile Beach in eastern Victoria state, lies beneath the Marlin field in the Vic/L02 license in about 58 meter-deep water, ExxonMobil said. Oil and gas liquids will be processed on the new platform and exported to the Longford gas plant in Victoria through an existing pipeline, it said.

Gas will initially be re-injected into the field before a new onshore gas-processing plant is built at Longford by 2015 to remove carbon dioxide from the gas.

Source: Bloomberg

No comments: