BHP Billiton has finally agreed with ExxonMobil Corp. that a floating LNG (FLNG) vessel is the best way to develop the Scarborough gas field in retention lease WA-1-R on the Exmouth Plateau offshore Western Australia.
BHP has previously preferred to tie the field in via subsea pipelines to existing production facilities along the coast such as the North West Shelf project.
The change of preference was articulated by Tim Cutt, BHP’s president of petroleum and potash. He said the two companies, in 50-50 partnership, are now together in the method of development. They are also increasingly confident the project will go ahead, although it is unlikely to come on stream before 2020.
Cutt said BHP now has confidence in FLNG technology and the field’s commerciality. “It is a good commercial project,” he said.
Scarborough, discovered in 1979, is 220 km northwest of Exmouth on the Western Australian coast in 900-970 m of water. Reserves are estimated at 10 tcf of gas.
Initial plans for the FLNG facility include a vessel 495 m in length and 75 m wide with a capacity for producing 6-7 million tonnes/year of LNG. The field life is expected to be 25-35 years.