ExxonMobil, BHP plan floating LNG scheme for Scarborough

ExxonMobil Corp. and BHP Billiton plan to develop the 1979 Scarborough natural gas field discovery on the Exmouth plateau off Western Australia using floating LNG (FLNG) technology, the companies said.

The companies could make a decision about the $10 billion-plus project early in 2014 after releasing plan documents Apr. 2.

The documents were submitted to the federal government’s Department of Environment and provide details of what would be the largest FLNG vessel in the world with dimensions of 495 m long and 75 m wide. This is larger than Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Prelude FLNG vessel, which measures 488 m by 74 m and is now being built to develop the Prelude gas field off the Western Australian Kimberley coast.

The Scarborough FLNG plant would be capable of processing 6-7 million tonnes/year of LNG compared with Prelude’s 3.6 million tpy.

The ExxonMobil-BHP joint venture says the vessel will be supplied with gas from 12 wells in the field to be drilled in two phases beginning in 2018.

Front-end engineering and design work could begin in 2014 leading to a final investment decision during the 2014-15 fiscal year. On that schedule, Scarborough could come on stream in 2020 or 2021 and operate for as long as 30 years. Some 500 people could be working onboard the vessel at any one time.

Scarborough field is thought to contain 8-10 tcf of gas.

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