Royal Dutch Shell PLC has let a geophysical and geotechnical survey contract to Neptune Marine Services, Perth, for the area between the undeveloped Crux gas-condensate field and Prelude gas-condensate field undergoing development in the Browse basin offshore Western Australia.
The contract involves the collection of high-resolution multibean echo sounder, side-scan sonar and sub-bottom profile data along a 160-km corridor between the two fields and provides a hint that Shell may be considering development of the Crux field via Prelude in the midterm.
Neptune will use its Mermaid Investigator vessel for the work and will conduct the probes in 90-280 m of water.
Crux field, discovered by Melbourne-based Nexus Energy, had been previously considered for a liquids stripping project as a first step to full gas development.
Nexus offered the gas to Shell to be available from 2021. However the global financial crisis in 2008 saw Nexus caught short without the finances or time to extract the liquids from the field.
Nexus was finally absorbed by Seven Group Holdings.
Shell’s initial thoughts were to develop Crux as a later supply of gas for the Prelude floating LNG (FLNG) project. Industry observers opine that the Neptune contract may mean the company has decided to pipe Crux gas to Prelude rather than shift the Prelude FLNG vessel to Crux once Prelude field is in decline.
Crux is thought to hold an estimated 1.8 tcf of gas and 66 million bbl of condensate.