Inpex Corp, Japan's top oil and gas producer, wants to grow in Australia through expansion of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) output as well as hydrogen and nature-based carbon offset projects, a senior executive said on Wednesday.
Inpex's $40 billion Ichthys LNG project and stakes in other gas projects last year contributed more than 70% of the company's global revenue and now the company has set up a "new energy" business in Australia to look at other opportunities.
"So Australia is really important and becoming increasingly important because of this aspiration to grow our business here," said Inpex vice president Bill Townsend.
Its top priority is to find new gas sources to supply its Ichthys LNG plant in Darwin, as it looks to boost output from its two processing units, or trains, by 0.4 million tonnes a year to 9.3 million tonnes a year by 2024, Townsend told Reuters.
The goal is to keep the Ichthys offshore central processing facility, pipeline and LNG plant at full capacity for their projected 40-year life, he said.
The Ichthys LNG plant site has room for more trains, and adding one more train is an aspiration, "but it's too early to announce anything, because the first thing that we need to do is find the gas," Townsend said.
While exploring for gas, the company is also working on plans to reduce emissions from its own operations using carbon capture and storage (CCS) at a proposed $1 billion hub in the depleted Bayu-Undan reservoir in the Timor Sea and in its own project in waters off Darwin.
It has applied for Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage 270 kilometers off Darwin released by the Australian government in a recent bidding round, due to be awarded after the country's May 21 election.
Down the track, when there is demand for hydrogen, the company would look to produce hydrogen from methane, capturing the carbon dioxide released using CCS.
"That's where CCS becomes such an enabler - not just creating cleaner LNG but possibly hydrogen," Townsend said.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul, Editing by Louise Heavens)