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Going back for future Bass Strait gas

Following another record year of production from our Longford Plants, ExxonMobil has been meeting unprecedented east coast gas demand by increasing our production well above our historical levels.

While our outlook for 2018 and beyond sees Longford returning to previous production levels, we’ve been busy setting our technical teams to work to determine how we can continue meeting the demand for energy that is only growing.

They have been looking at everything from geotechnical assessments and small investments, such as debottlenecking facilities, to larger projects requiring major capital.

ExxonMobil’s Gippsland gas development taskforce is also focusing on capturing a pocket of unswept gas at the western end of the Barracouta field – the first offshore field ever discovered in Australia.

“As our major three gas fields approach the end of their production it opens up spare capacity for more sweet gas (with low levels of CO2) in our LongforGas Processing Plants,” said Lead Country Manager Richard Owen.

In May this year, the cream of the world’s project development engineering and geoscience expertise was brought together in Melbourne to brainstorm concepts for developing this remaining Barracouta gas.

“As this is a small, complex structure, our first challenge is to engineer a commercially viable concept for developing the gas,” said West Barracouta Project Manager Andrew Barton.

“We have made significant progress working through many of the technical and commercial challenges. The target is to bring this gas online from 2020.

“The project is likely to involve the drilling of a number of subsea wells which will be tied back to our existing Barracouta infrastructure,” said Andrew.

“We have already started the community consultation process and anticipate conducting environmental and seabed surveys from early next year to assess the location of potential well sites and flow-line routes.”

Meanwhile, the Gippsland taskforce is also progressing plans to develop a number of small sour gas (high in CO2) fields, including Kipper Phase 1B.

“The sour gas needs to go through our new Gas Conditioning Plant, so we planned to bring these online when Longford sour gas processing capacity opens up with the decline in Kipper and Turrum production,” said Andrew.

“All these discovered undeveloped fields are relatively small – the largest would be about a third the size of Turrum – so we need to design innovative ways to develop them at a competitive price into the market.”

Richard said that the objective was to leverage the Gippsland operations infrastructure in place to maintain much needed gas supplies to the domestic market.

“We have been high-grading our assets, investing in new facilities and improving our operations efficiency to give us the best chance of success in this market,” he said.

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