The Golden Jubilee of natural gas

April 14 marks Australia’s offshore petroleum industry’s Golden Jubilee. This was the day that our first offshore natural gas was delivered to our first customers – the Westmore family in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Carrum.

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The Golden Jubilee of natural gas
 
The Gas & Fuel Corporation conversion teams arrived at the Westmore home at 2am to convert their appliances from manufactured oil and coal gas to natural gas.

Mr Westmore told The Sun newspaper at the time that the change would reduce his gas bill by 21 percent. “Everything in this place is gas except the light,” he said.

The Barracouta field was discovered in March 1965, the first offshore gas discovery in Australia.

“Achieving first production from Barracouta less than five years after that first discovery, was an outstanding achievement,” said Gippsland Production Operations Manager Stu Jeffries.

“Starting with no infrastructure, no operating or engineering organisation, the backbone of the Gippsland production system was designed and built.

“We installed the Barracouta platform and started drilling the production wells three years and one month after that discovery, while pipelines were finished and Longford plants construction was completed.

“Eleven months later Barracouta started producing gas to pipeline, the first offshore production in Australia.  Eight days after that first production, gas was processed through the new Longford gas plant and was sold to the Gas & Fuel Corporation, which had built a pipeline from Longford to Melbourne.”

It took four weeks to fill that pipeline and deliver gas to the first customers in Melbourne.

The Westmore’s gas left Barracouta on March 8 and arrived at Longford on March 16.
Photo — Staff on Barracouta platform celebrate the 50 year anniversary.
Workers cut birthday cakes on Barracouta and at Longford to mark these historic milestones.
Photo — The Longford Plants team celebrate the 50 year anniversary.
“Our first Bass Strait discoveries and their subsequent developments resulted from the alignment of many diverse forces,” said ExxonMobil Australia Production Manager and Lead Country Manager Richard Owen.

“It took the convergence of new technology, skills, knowledge, vision, determination and lots of investment capital.

“They involved collaboration between government, the community, and the management and shareholders of Esso and BHP. Without the involvement and alignment of all the stakeholders, the costly and ambitious exploration program would have remained a geologist’s dream.”

The Bass Strait fields have produced eight trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 4.7 billion barrels of crude oil since the first well was drilled.

Today, half a century after production began, innovation remains a hallmark of our Gippsland operations as we aim to leverage off the vast infrastructure and skilled workforce we have built up over the years to develop new sources of much-needed gas for the community.

“The fact that we are returning to the Barracouta field with a new development project, and we are exploring in deep water for more gas, demonstrates how we are continuing the Gippsland tradition of exceptional people delivering outstanding results,” said Richard.

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