The Browse Basin is home to gas fields currently being explored by ConocoPhillips and Karoon Gas, Nexus Energy, Inpex, Shell and Woodside Petroleum. Gas Today looks at the fields currently being explored in the basin and their possible development options. Browse Gas Project
Woodside and its joint venture partners – Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and BHP Billiton – are proposing the $10 billion Browse Gas Project.
The project includes the Brecknock, Brecknock South and Tarosa fields, and is estimated to contain reserves of over 14 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas and 300 million barrels (MMbbl) of condensate.
The fields are located approximately 400 kilometres north, northwest of Broome. The initial development concept for Browse involves offshore facilities and two LNG processing trains, each with a capacity of 7 MMt/a.Article continues below…
Operator of the project, Woodside Petroleum, has said that it will require a 450 km pipeline to link the gas fields to an onshore processing plant.
The joint venture partners are set to select a location for an LNG plant for the development in the second half of 2009.
The partners are currently deliberating whether to develop the processing facility at James Price Point, located 60 km north of Broome, or adjacent to Woodside’s Pluto project at Karratha. Woodside Chief Executive Officer Don Voelte said there were no “stumbling blocks” stopping the project being developed in the Kimberley, rather than at Karratha, and that construction of the plant at James Price Point could start in 2011. The Western Australian Government has selected James Price Point as the site for the development of a Kimberley LNG Hub.
Ichthys LNG Project
Inpex’s Ichthys Gas Field Development is expected to produce more than 8 MMt/a of LNG, 1.6 MMt/a of LPG and 100,000 bbl/d of condensate.
The field is located in WA-285-P of the Browse Basin, approximately 440 km offshore northwest Australia.
Inpex has chosen to connect the field via an approximately 850 km pipeline to a proposed onshore processing plant at Darwin.
Front-end engineering and design studies are currently being undertaken for the project, with a final investment decision expected near the end of 2009 or early in 2010.
ConocoPhillips and Karoon Gas drilling program
ConocoPhillips and Karoon Gas have planned a multi-well drilling program for Browse Basin permits WA-314-P, WA-315-P and WA-398-P, located approximately 480 km north of Broome.
The companies have said that, if 7 Tcf of gas is found within the permits, they would sanction the development of an LNG project.
The project would include the construction of a 1,000 km natural gas pipeline running through the Timor Sea to connect the Browse Basin to an onshore LNG plant.
Karoon Gas has successfully raised a total $149.6 million for its exploration and appraisal program in the basin, for which a Transocean Legend drilling rig, Sedco 703, has been commissioned. Crux Gas Condensate Field
The Crux Field is located in permit AC/L9, approximately 600 km north of Broome. The field was discovered in 2001 and has a 240 metre gross condensate rich gas column in high quality sandstone reservoirs. The field also contains an estimated 48 MMbbl of condensate liquid.
The field is being jointly developed by Nexus Energy and Shell Developments. Shell owns the rights to the gas in the field.
Lying in 190 metres of water, the field contains 1.3 Tcf of contingent gas reserves, which Shell Developments intends to produce either at a subsequent date or concurrently with the field’s condensate liquids.
Currently, activity within the field is on hold as the companies seek a suitable joint venture partner. Prelude Gas Field
Shell is to develop the Prelude Gas Field using floating LNG (FLNG) technology.
The company has said that FLNG has the potential to provide a lower cost development for small gas accumulations located far from shore and reduces a project’s environmental footprint. In addition, an FLNG facility is seen as more economical since it can be towed to a new site once field production begins to decline.
The field is expected to contain between 2 and 3 Tcf of gas. Onshore options for Browse processing
The DDP Consortium has proposed the Derby to Dampier Pipeline concept – a cost effective option for the delivery of large volumes of Browse Basin gas to be established at industrial sites in the Pilbara for processing LNG. Industrial sites at Boodarrie, Burrup and Maitland in the Pilbara have existing approvals as well as substantial social and industrial infrastructure.
The concept also provides a means of delivering Browse domestic gas reservation commitments and/or Canning Basin gas into the Western Australian domestic market by way of a connection to the Dampier to Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline.
Consortium members – comprising DBP, Alcoa, DUET Group, Macquarie Capital Advisers and Buru Energy – believe that such a pipeline could be developed within any realistic timetable that may be proposed by upstream parties for the development of Browse Basin gas reserves.
However, the Western Australian Government has said that while it will consider such proposals in the future, the development of the Kimberley LNG Hub remains its top priority at present.
In April, Federal Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson announced the award of 13 new offshore petroleum exploration permits in Commonwealth waters, which are expected to generate $155 million in offshore exploration investment around Australia.
They include four new permits in the Browse Basin, with two awarded to Woodside Energy and Mitsui E&P (AC08-8 and W08-9), and two permits allocated to Hunt Oil Company and SK Energy Company (W08-8 and W08-10).
In addition, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has said the state Government will be looking for private investors to fund a new deepwater port at Point Torment, near Derby, to service the Browse Basin gas industry.
The port has been mooted for development at either the Point Torment site or at Broome. Point Torment is located approximately 220 km southwest of Broome.
Mr Barnett has expressed his preference for the port to be developed at the Point Torment site because it would “allow the separation of the oil and gas industry from the tourism industry.”
The Browse Basin is an attractive prospect for gas companies as it is well placed to supply gas to Asia, as well as to use existing processing facilities developed for projects on the nearby North West Shelf.
The major projects planned in the basin, the release of new permits and continued government support for associated infrastructure will continue to stimulate its exploration and production growth.