Friday, July 31, 2009

Piping LNG to the Pilbara or a floating facility

A subsea pipeline to the Pilbara is Woodside Petroleum’s main option for the $30 billion Browse LNG project if it cannot convince its wavering partners to support an onshore plant at James Price Point. Mr Barnett said the government would not grant the necessary approvals, such as pipeline easements, for such a plan to proceed. And though the state government would have no jurisdiction to stop the alternative of a floating LNG facility at Browse, he said the technology was only suitable for smaller LNG projects, such as Shell’s proposed $3 billion Prelude FLNG venture nearby. Nonetheless, Shell and Woodside have in the past identified FLNG technology as a possible option for both the Browse project and the big but remote Sunrise LNG project in the Timor Sea. Mr Barnett said it was time Woodside’s Browse partners – Chevron, Shell, BHP Billiton and BP – accept reality and back the Kimberley hub. Chevron and Shell are understood to be the main parties still unconvinced that the onshore hub is the best option,(Excerpts from WA Business News 30th July 2009)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Whale sightings at Prices Point

Richard Costin and observers on MV Odyssey observed Humpback whales feeding off the Kimberley coast on Friday the 24th of July 2009, 7 nautical miles from James Price Point. Not previously thought to feed in Kimberley waters, the whales were observed feeding with a pod of 20 Pilot Whales, 3 Bottlenose Dolphins and flocks of sea birds. Mr Costin and his partner, Annabelle Sandes, from Kimberley Whale Watching, have spent the last three years studying and filming the Kimberley╩╝s Humpback Whales and other cetaceans.
In total 23 pods representing 43 whales were observed between Broome and James Price Point, over a three and a half hour period. This represents 12.28 whales per hour of sighting effort.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Woodside wants action at Prices Point

Woodside Petroleum it seems will consider putting pressure on the Federal Government to strip its multinational Venture Parters including Cheron and Shell of their Browse Basin liquefied natural gas leases if an agreement cannot be reached. These leases expired in December 2008 and are up for renewal. Federal Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, has threatened that companies cannot sit on valuable gas reserves without developing them. Woodside is the principal developer with a 50% stake in Browse gas. Chevron, Shell, BHP Billiton and BP make up the remaining 50%. Martin Ferguson supports developing Browse gas at Prices Point but what clout has Peter Garrett, the Environmental Minister, in the final decision? The proposal has yet to be approved; the environmental assessment of the project will not be completed until late 2010. Already the proposed construction date, if the project gets the go ahead, has shifted from 2011 to 2013.
(based on an article in the West Australian July 3rd 2009)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The choice is made in late 2009 for Browse LNG

The June deadline has now passed with no agreement between Woodside and its joint Venture Partners. No wonder there is hesitation, since Karratha is looming as the logical choice over Prices Point for the Browse LNG because:
  1. The North West Shelf's infrastructure near Karratha is already in place.
  2. Woodside's partners: Shell (8.3%), Chevron (16.7%), BHP Billiton (8.3%) and BP (16.7%) would be considering the strong option of refilling the N.W.S. reserves when they run low in 10 years time with Browse LNG.
  3. Piping gas from the Browse to Karratha is a far cheaper option than construction of a hub at Prices Point.
  4. There are uncertainties concerning the KLC especially with their recent negotiations with the Federal Government regarding future benefits for traditional owners.
  5. Environmental groups and the Broome Shire are opposed to LNG development at Prices Point.
  6. Woodside's partners are already heavily committed to other projects including Gorgon which has three times the gas reserves of Browse and is the biggest resources project in Australian history.
  7. In the present economic downturn, will the joint Venture Partners be wary about developing a greenfields site at Prices Point especially now that the cost of the project may have blown out to as much as $50 billion.
  8. The development of the Woodside Browse will only incrementally boost LNG output which makes it very hard to justify another expensive project at Prices Point.
  9. If Shell is working on a floating LNG plant, why is this not an option for Browse LNG?

(these views based on an article in the West Australian July 1st 2009)