Inpex’s Australian Ichthys LNG project has reached 50% completion less than two-and-a-half years after its final investment decision was made, the Japanese operator announced on 25 June 2014. The company said that the semisubmersible pipelay barge SEMAC-1 arrived in Australia’s Northern Territory on the same day to begin work on the gas export pipeline (GEP).
The Ichthys field, located in the Browse Basin in the Timor Sea approximately 200km off Western Australia and 800km southwest of Darwin, is comprised of two hydrocarbon reservoirs, Brewster and Plover. The giant field is estimated to hold 12.8Tcf of gas and 527MMbbl of condensate.
Construction started on the US$34 billion Ichthys LNG project in April 2012, just months after final project go-ahead was granted in January 2012. Gas will be preliminarily processed offshore through a central processing facility permanently moored to the field. Condensate will be pumped to a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) facility before being transferred to tankers. The FPSO keel-laying ceremony was held 20 February at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering shipyard in Okpo, South Korea.
Gas from the central offshore processing facility will be transported through an 885km subsea pipeline to a proposed LNG processing plant in Middle Arm Peninsula, Darwin, Northern Territory to be cooled to form LNG.
Inpex says that the project plan calls for the drilling of about 20 development wells, which is scheduled to start in the Brewster reservoir beginning mid-2014 for a period of about 40 months. Up to 50 subsea wells will be drilled in reservoirs ranging in water depth from 4000 to 4500m over the 40-year life of the project.
The ENSCO 5006 semisubmersible mobile offshore drilling unit will conduct the first phase of drilling, supported by two anchor-handling supply vessels. On 28 April 2014, the drillship arrived at Singapore’s Keppel FELS shipyard from Cyprus for upgrades to lifeboats, helideck and refueling facilities prior to the start of drillwork.
First production is scheduled for 2016.
Pipelay work to begin
Ichthys LNG Project Managing Director Louis Bon said that SEMAC-1 will start the 164km shallow water pipelay component of the GEP installation in the coming weeks. This work includes laying the first 18km section of 42in. diameter pipe through Darwin Harbour from Middle Arm.
Saipem operates SEMAC-1, and has been contracted by Inpex for the project’s EPIC work.
Inpex places the project’s initial capacity at 8.4mtpa of LNG, 1.6MTPA of liquefied petroleum gas, and about 100,000b/d of condensate at peak.
Inpex operates Ichthys with 66.7% interest. Its partners include Total (30%), Tokyo Gas (1.575%), Osaka Gas (1.2%), Chubu Electric (0.35%) and Toho Gas (0.42%)
Photo of Icthys LNG Project's offshore facilities from Inpex.