Coogee plans menthanol plant for Northern Territory

Private Coogee Chemicals reported plans to conduct a study into the feasibility of building a methanol plant in Darwin, Northern Territory. The $500-million (Aus.), 350,000-tonne/year methanol project would be built close to Inpex’s Ichthys LNG plant.

Private Coogee Chemicals Pty. Ltd., Perth, reported plans to conduct a study into the feasibility of building a methanol plant in Darwin, Northern Territory.

The $500-million (Aus.), 350,000-tonne/year methanol project would be built close to Inpex’s Ichthys LNG plant at Middle Arm on Darwin Harbor.

The plant would require a supply of 40 terajoules/day of gas feedstock that Coogee Chief Executive Officer Grant Lukey believes can be sourced from conventional offshore gas reserves to underpin the project. He said at this stage the company is not factoring in onshore developments such as the potential for tight shale gas that has been identified in the Beetaloo subbasin south east of Darwin.

Coogee Chemicals also is involved with Western Australian company Wesfarmers and Japan’s Mitsubishi in looking at the possibility of a $1.4-billion (Aus.), 1.8 million-tpy methanol plant on the Burrup Peninsular near Dampier in Western Australia.

Several other methanol plant projects have been touted for Western Australia and the Northern Territory in the past but have not proceeded. These include Australian Methanol Co. for a plant on the Burrup Peninsula, Magallen Petroleum Co.’s plan for a Darwin plant, and a plant designed for a gravity structure offshore at Tassie Shoals in the Timor Sea.

Coogee’s new plan is a direct result of the Northern Territory’s five-point Gas Strategy announced by NT’s Chief Minister Michael Gunner last year.

The Gas Strategy aims to turn the state into a world-class hub for gas production, manufacturing, and services by 2030.

Lukey said the Darwin location has been driven by NT government support, the proximity to Southeast Asia, and the abundance of gas available at competitive prices. This, he added, was in stark contrast to Australia’s east coast.

Coogee was forced to mothball its existing smaller methanol plant at Laverton, just west of Melbourne in Victoria several years ago when it could not afford the 3 petajoules/year of gas needed because of rising gas prices in the region.

Lukey said the company is keen to see plants built in Darwin and Western Australia where it can add value to gas.

A final investment decision for the Darwin project is expected in early 2021 which would enable the plant to be brought on stream in 2024.

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