Oil & Gas

Ichthys – a $34bn LNG mega-project Down Under

The Ichthys LNG development

The INPEX-operated, $34billion, Ichthys LNG project has just marked a key milestone by celebrating the keel-laying of its FPSO at Daewoo’s Okpo yard in South Korea.

The vessel is the facility that will be used for condensate dewatering, stabilisation, storage and export of hydrocarbons from this “Down Under” liquefied natural gas development.

Once complete, the facility will be towed 5,600km to the Ichthys field in the Browse Basin, offshore Western Australia, where it will be permanently moored for the life of the project.

The 336m by 59m FPSO is designed to hold more than 1million barrels of condensate, which will be offloaded periodically to crude oil tankers and shipped directly to market.

Laying the FPSO’s keel is simply the latest stage of a journey that started in 1998 when Inpex acquired petroleum exploration permit WA-285-P, located in the Browse Basin, off the north-west coast of Western Australia and about 820km south-west of Darwin.

Stepping back, it was during 2000 and 2001 that three exploration wells led to the discovery of an extremely promising gas and condensate field now known as the Ichthys.

Most likely resource estimates are 12.8trillion cu.ft of gas and 527million barrels of condensate to be produced over an operational life of more than 40 years.

To produce the find, a JV was forged between Inpex, Total and Australian subsidiaries of Tokyo Gas, Osaka Gas, Chubu Electric Power and Toho Gas.

The core of the project is as follows.

Gas and hydrocarbon liquids will be produced by an extensive suite of subsea production wells.

Gas from Ichthys will undergo preliminary processing at an offshore central processing facility (CPF) to remove water and raw liquids, including a large proportion of the condensate. The CPF will be the largest ever attempted and is now being built by Samsung of South Korea.

This condensate will be pumped to the FPSO now being built at Daewoo and buffer stored pending tanker export.

The gas will be transported from the CPF through a subsea pipeline more than 885km to an onshore LNG processing plant at Blaydin Point on Middle Arm Peninsula, Darwin, Northern Territory.

Ichthys will have an initial capacity to produce 8.4million tonnes of LNG and 1.6million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) per annum, as well as about 100,000 barrels of condensate per day at peak.

There are many other large contracts associated with this project. The list includes, among others:

– Interek – provision of dimensional control of Ichthys mooring turret for FPSO

– Technip – prepping for commissioning of FPSO and central facility; provision of engineering and procurement assistance for FPSO topside facilities; flexible including umbilicals

– Aker Solutions – SURF package

– McDermott – SURF package

– Clough – integrated project management

– KBR – front-end engineering and design

– JP Kenny – FEED for pipeline and umbilicals, risers and flowlines,

– SBM – turret mooring design and build

– GE – rotating equipment including power generation

– Saipem – gas export pipeline

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