Australia approves Woodside's Pluto LNG project

Australia has granted environmental approval for Woodside Petroleum Ltd.'s Pluto LNG gas development in Western Australia.

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Oct. 15 -- Australia has granted environmental approval for Woodside Petroleum Ltd.'s Pluto LNG gas development in Western Australia.

The approval comes with strict environmental conditions including the reducing any impacts on threatened species, such as the Olive Python, sea turtles, and other marine mammals.

Woodside also will be required to establish management plans to protect the marine environment, including a dredging and spoil management plan prior to pipeline work, an oil spill contingency plan, and plans for offshore drilling operations, construction, installation, and operations management.

The $11.2 billion (Aus.) Pluto development includes installation of a production platform in 85 m of water at the offshore field about 190 km northwest of Karratha, a 180 km, 36-in. subsea gas pipeline to shore, and construction of a 4.3 million tonne/year LNG liquefaction plant, storage, and wharf facilities at two separate sites on the Burrup Peninsula.

The government said the Pluto development will inject $17.6 billion (Aus.) into the national economy. About 28% of the 3,000-person workforce will live locally. There will be an additional 3,200 jobs during later operations.

Gas reserves are estimated to be 5 tcf, including nearby Xena field, which will added in later development.

Currently Woodside holds 100% interest, but the project is underpinned by a package of LNG sales agreements and equity with Tokyo Gas and Kansai Electric of Japan, each of which will take 5% equity in Pluto.

The field was found in 2005. Initial onshore site works began earlier this year, and first LNG production is expected in 2010.

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