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Woodside Energy eyes LNG facility, bunkering vessel expansion

Tue 19 Mar 2019 by John Snyder

Woodside Energy eyes LNG facility, bunkering vessel expansion
Siem Thiima could be the first of many LNG-fuelled OSVs chartered by Woodside Energy (credit: Woodside Energy)

At the Australasian Oil and Gas Exhibition & Conference in Perth, Australia this month, Woodside Energy chief operations officer Meg O’Neill outlined the company’s plans to expand its LNG production capacity to meet growing domestic and international natural gas demand. It also plans to add LNG fuelling infrastructure for trucks and vessels.

Under the Burrup Hub project, Australian energy company Woodside Energy is proposing to develop some 20-25Tn ft3 of gas resources from Scarborough, Browse and Pluto offshore gas fields, and expand its Pluto LNG and North West Shelf (NWS) Project facilities, creating a regional LNG production centre in Western Australia.

Major components of the expansion include a second liquefaction train at Pluto LNG, a floating production unit at Scarborough connecting to shore via a new 430-km pipeline and two floating production, storage and offloading vessels at the Browse basin connecting to the NWS Project. A pipeline would also be built connecting the NWS Project Karratha Gas Plant to the Pluto LNG facility.

The second train at Pluto LNG would be a small-scale liquefaction plant with a capacity of 1.5 mta, whose modular approach should shorten construction time.

“FIDs on Scarborough, Pluto train 2 and Browse are targeted for 2020,” said Ms O’Neill. While the idea would be to maximise local content, she said some specialist components require global capabilities not currently available in Western Australia, such as the offshore floating facilities and LNG train modules. These would need to be constructed overseas.

LNG fuelling infrastructure planned

LNG as a transportation fuel is also high on Woodside Energy’s agenda. Ms O’Neill said that later this month the company will open an LNG truck-loading facility at the Pluto Plant to supply LNG as a locally produced, lower-emissions fuel to customers in remote areas across northern Western Australia.

“Woodside has also been working to develop the potential for LNG as a cleaner marine fuel and we believe Western Australia can lead the way in this emerging market as the International Maritime Organisation’s 2020 deadline for low-sulphur marine fuel approaches. Woodside has been talking to the big miners about using LNG to fuel the busy marine trade routes from Western Australia to Asia and we are tendering for a bunkering vessel to ensure the ships can be readily refuelled in Western Australia, using Western Australian LNG.”

A joint industry partnership (JIP) was formed in 2018 to develop an LNG-fuelled 260,000-dwt Newcastlemax bulk carrier design that could operate in the coal and iron ore trade between Australia and China. Woodside Energy, Australian mining companies BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto, shipowners MOL, U-Ming, and China Merchant Energy Shipping, ship designer SDARI, Shell and class society DNV GL were part of the project.

Based on the JIP’s analysis, two fuel tanks in the bulk carrier would have a capacity of 8,000 m3, which would minimise LNG bunkering time per round trip and maximise LNG fuel storage capacity to meet requirements for longer trade routes in the future, according to DNV GL. The tank size is based on two round trips from Western Australia to China using two LNG Type C tanks.

Woodside Energy also wants its entire OSV fleet operating off Australia’s northwest coast to burn LNG as fuel by 2022. One of its chartered OSVs is the dual-fuel burning Siem Thiima, owned by Norway’s Siem Offshore that can operate on LNG or marine diesel oil. The OSV is currently bunkered with LNG using tanker trucks.

Ms O’Neill told conference delegates that gas reduces emissions globally when it displaces other fossil fuels and has a “big role to play in delivering the energy the world needs while tackling global climate change.”

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