Exclusives

In an astonishing paradox, Australia is hurtling towards chronic domestic gas shortages and power outages just as it becomes the world’s biggest LNG exporter.

Australia, offshore, equipment, subsea, technology, Wood Group, Woodside, Shell, PTTEP, Inpex, JIP

The companies are part of a Wood Group-led joint industry project launched to eradicate the degradation of subsea equipment in shallow, warm waters offshore Australia.

Australia is on the cusp of becoming the world’s largest LNG exporter. At AOG 2017, the question being asked is whether that will be good for the country?

Australia-based, but Alaska-focused 88 Energy was Australian Stock Index star as the country’s oil and gas sector climbed out of a very deep hole.

Australian energy industry captains said the new U.S. administration is good news for the global petroleum business, but are bracing for increasingly competitive markets.

Deepwater International

Santos has been awarded two exploration permits close to its existing acreage in the vicinity of the giant ongoing Ichthys LNG development in the Browse Basin offshore Western Australia.

The giant Inpex-operated Ichthys LNG Project has hit a couple of significant milestones, with the start of deepwater pipelay work on the 889-km gas export pipeline and the start of the development drilling program.

Browse FLNG development operator Woodside has pushed back its schedule for the large project to focus further on reducing costs, according to CEO Peter Coleman.

Plans for a newbuild semisubmersible production facility off North Western Australia look to be back on the development path. 

A production test is to get underway on an oil discovery offshore Brazil that is expanding nicely in terms of its size and scope as operator Karoon Gas Australia continues to firm up more reserves.

Exploration

Cooper Energy seeks to develop the Sole gas field in the Gippsland Basin, with first gas expected in late 2018. Gas would be processed at a plant onshore in Orbost, which APA has agreed to buy and spend AU$250 million to upgrade, Reuters reported.

Earlier treaties that established a joint petroleum development area with revenue split 90% to East Timor and 10% to Australia, which govern production from the Bayu-Undan Field run by ConocoPhillips, will remain in place, Reuters reported.

Woodside’s best estimate contingent resources (2C) has now increased by 462 million barrels of oil equivalent, or 2,632 Bcf of dry gas.

Central Petroleum produces gas from conventional fields onshore in the Northern Territory, and sees itself as well-positioned to meet a shortfall of gas in the eastern Australian market, or to supply LNG to plants that chill the gas for exports.

Woodside, Australia's biggest independent oil and gas producer, has announced two deals over the past four months together worth up to $830 million.

Production

Woodside’s forecast for production to grow by 15% over the next three years, implying output of around 100 million barrels of oil equivalent by 2020, was ahead of some analysts’ forecasts for growth of around 5%. The increase will come from the Wheatstone LNG project, where operator Chevron Corp. expects production to start in mid-2017, and oil from Woodside’s Greater Enfield project.

The partners, led by ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), plan to start initial engineering and design work in late 2017 and to reach a final investment decision in late 2018 or early 2019, Santos Managing Director Kevin Gallagher told analysts at a results briefing.

Under the agreement, TechnipFMC will deploy its deepwater RLWI stack and two Schilling Robotics ROVs, from the Island Performer vessel, to perform riserless well access services on up to 20 subsea wells in the Ichthys Field, beginning in 2017.

Australia’s LNG exports surged by 37.7% to 36.8 mtpa in 2016 as the plethora of new projects in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and coastal Queensland triggered a flood of new shipments to global markets.

BP said the project off Australia's south coast, in which it is partnered by Norway's Statoil, would not be able to compete for capital investment with other opportunities in its global portfolio for the foreseeable future.

Subsea Engineering

The successful installation of the complex network of subsea infrastructure and equipment to safely and efficiently extract gas and condensate from the Ichthys Field for the Ichthys LNG Project has been completed, INPEX said Jan. 13.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. has agreed Sept. 5 to buy half of BHP Billiton Ltd.’s stake in the Scarborough area gas fields off Western Australia for $400 million, in a move that could help speed a decision to develop the long delayed project.

In a sign that the tide is starting to turn for the offshore oil and gas sector, Woodside Energy Ltd. and partner Mitsui E&P Australia have agreed to spend $1.9 billion to develop the Greater Enfield reserves offshore Western Australia.

TGS has begun its Northwest Shelf Renaissance 2-D seismic survey offshore Northwest Australia, aiming to provide “enhanced imaging through to the deeper stratigraphic section of the Dampier, Beagle and Bedout sub-basins and Exmouth Plateau.”

Woodside has decided to put its Browse FLNG project off Australia on ice after completing FEED work on the scheme.

Technology

However, the need for more gas for power has arisen just as three new LNG export plants have opened in the northeast, tripling gas demand and drawing supply out of the domestic market, Reuters reported.

The contract scope includes the subsea tieback of the Sole well to the Orbost Gas Plant. This includes the fabrication and installation of 64 km of pipeline, spool and manifold, plus installation of a 64-km umbilical and the commissioning of the system, Subsea 7 said in the release.

Oil Search is also a partner in the Papua LNG project, run by Total, which is looking to develop the Elk-Antelope gas fields. Oil Search believes billions of dollars could be saved if those fields are used to help expand the PNG LNG project, Reuters reported.

The Geoholm vessel will be required to provide ROV and light construction support services to TechnipFMC in Australia for the Prelude FLNG water intake riser installation, a news release said.

Inpex holds 72.8% of the project, France's Total 24%, with the rest spread over Japanese utilities Tokyo Gas, Osaka Gas and Toho Gas, Reuters reported.