Go-ahead for Pluto gas project

The Board of Woodside Petroleum has approved development of the Pluto Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project, based 190km northwest of Karratha, Australia


The board of Woodside Petroleum has approved development of the Pluto Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project, based 190km northwest of Karratha, Australia.



The approval, subject to final environmental and other regulatory factors, is for a project based on Woodside’s Pluto and Xena gas fields.



The initial stage of the project will include the construction of a single LNG production train with a projected production of 4.3m tonnes per year, which will be connected to a platform in 85m of water by an 180km, 91cm offshore pipeline. The platform will be attached to five sub-sea big bore wells in the Pluto field.



So far, A$796m has been spent on the Pluto field and LNG Project, and the board has approved additional funding of up to A$11.2bn for the upcoming developments. Later work, including compression and linking to the Xena gas field, will require further funding approval.



Woodside has committed A$300m in additional infrastructure to allow for future expansion of other Woodside or third party gas, so that the onshore plant will be able to operate as an open-access facility with additional LNG trains.



According to Woodside, the Pluto project would play a significant part in meeting Asia-Pacific’s demand for LNG. This is underlined by the 15-year sales agreements that Woodside expects to sign with Tokyo Gas and Kansai Electric this month, for 3.75mtpa.



Tokyo Gas and Kansai Electric will each build and operate an LNG ship to transport a combined 2.6mtpa to Japan. Another ship will be built at Samsung Heavy Industries in Korea by AP Moller Maersk and leased to Woodside on a long-term basis to transport LNG to Japan.



Preliminary site work for the onshore components, which includes storage tanks and a loading terminal, started in January.



The project is expected to create up to 3,000 jobs during construction and 300 jobs when it is up and running.



The production of gas is expected to begin in late 2010.