First Gas Flows into New North West Shelf Trunkline

First gas has begun flowing into one of the world's biggest offshore pipelines as Woodside, operator of the North West Shelf Venture, starts commissioning the line as part of LNG expansion at Karratha in Western Australia.

The new A$800 million, 42-inch (1,067 millimeter) diameter trunkline, the second major line to feed gas into the Karratha plant, will undergo a proving period before gas is produced into LNG at the Venture's onshore gas plant.

The trunkline complements the original 40-inch (1,016 millimeter) trunkline which has been operating since 1984, linking the Venture's three offshore gas production facilities, about 130 kilometers north-west of Karratha, to onshore gas processing facilities on the Burrup Peninsula.

The trunkline is the biggest installed in Australia and one of the biggest in the world, adding significant capacity for increased gas production for both LNG and domestic gas users.

The trunkline more than doubles the Venture's offshore production capacity to transport gas from its offshore production platforms to its onshore processing facilities from 1,650 million standard cubic feet a day (46.7 million cubic meters a day) to 3,850 million standard cubic feet a day (110.7 million cubic meters a day).

The North West Shelf Venture Chief Executive Officer, Steve Ollerearnshaw, said the gas flow marked another historic day in the development of the North West Shelf project.

"The new trunkline underpins the Venture's commitment to reliable gas production and supply and gives us the basis for further expansion," Mr. Ollerearnshaw said.

"The trunkline gives us a greater degree of reliability and flexibility, particularly when maintenance is required on the different facilities, as we will now be able to direct gas produced by our offshore facilities through either one or both of the trunklines.

"The installation and commissioning of this facility in a harsh and difficult offshore environment is testament to the skills and dedication of all those involved.

"It is a magnificent achievement that further secures the North West Shelf Venture's position as a world-class international hydrocarbon producing operation."

Construction of the trunkline began in 2002 and was completed on schedule and within budget.

It is an integral part of the current expansion of the Venture's onshore gas processing facilities. At the peak of installation, more than 400 people were employed offshore.

The expansion also includes a fourth LNG processing train and associated infrastructure. The A$1.6 billion fourth train is scheduled for completion in mid-2004. It will have a capacity of 4.2 million tons a year and will increase the Venture's LNG production capability to nearly 12 million tons a year.

The six equal participants in the North West Shelf Venture are: Woodside Energy Ltd. (operator); BHP Billiton Petroleum (North West Shelf) Pty Ltd; BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd; Chevron Australia Pty Ltd; Japan Australia LNG (MIMI) Pty Ltd; and Shell Development (Australia) Proprietary Limited.