The week in Australian gas

ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell's Gorgon LNG project.

ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell's Gorgon LNG project.

Want to catch up on all this week’s industry news, movers and shakers, winners and losers? Gas today has you covered with our weekly wrap sheet.

During a week that saw another new low for oil prices, Australia’s gas industry experienced some big falls, reported progress on major projects and faced-off with government on contentious issues.

The week opened with the announcement from the Australian Taxation Office that it is investigating the country’s biggest oil and gas firms – ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell – over an estimated $3 billion in tax-free profits generated from the Gorgon LNG project.

The Australian Financial Review reported the three companies had booked the profits by charging their Australian arms exorbitant interest rates on related-party loans.

In Victoria, meanwhile, the Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas reached fever pitch with the state government’s inter-departmental submission criticised for not presenting a viewpoint on the matter.

The Victorian Auditor General later released its assessment on unconventional gas and concluded the state government did not have the regulatory capabilities or the knowledge to manage such an industry.

The Queensland Government scrapped all permit paperwork for mining and exploration firms in an effort to restore billions of dollars in unnecessary red tape expenditure and man-hours.

Woodside reported a 2015 half-year net profit after tax of approximately $A925 million, down 39 per cent on the previous corresponding quarter underpinned by operating revenue of approximately $A3.4 billion, down 28 per cent due to lower commodity prices.

The results were partially offset by the long-awaited approval from the federal government over the company’s plans to progress with the Browse floating LNG (FLNG) Project.

The conditional approval is valid until 31 December 2070, and allows for Woodside to install, operate and decommission the infrastructure for the development of the Torosa, Brecknock and Calliance gas fields.

On Thursday, Origin Energy reported a $A658 million statutory loss for the FY15 due to increased impairment charges, the depreciation of the dollar and oil price.

The company on August 12 reported $337 million in impairment charge as a result of re-assessment of reserves and revised development plans in the firm’s upstream assets.

Meanwhile, Origin’s Australia Pacific LNG project is nearing completion - now 97 per cent complete.

In other major project news, first gas was brought into the Santos GLNG Project Train 1 on Curtis Island.

The $A23 billion project is currently scheduled for first LNG around the end of the third calendar quarter of 2015.

Over the coming weeks, the ‘front-end’ pre-treatment units will be started up before chilling down the ‘cold end’ refrigeration units to make LNG.

And INPEX announced it was slightly behind schedule on its Ichthys LNG Project and called for tenders from specialist subsea integrity engineering organisations to provide support services.

Benchmark crude-oil in the U.S. fell 4.3 per cent to $40.80 a barrel, the lowest NYMEX since March 2009. Brent fell 3.4 per cent to $47.16 a barrel. The International Energy Union flagged the continued decline in its latest report and warned global oil oversupply would be likely to persist into 2016.

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