The Australian government has given environmental approval for the Woodside Petroleum Ltd.-led joint venture’s proposed development of its Browse basin gas-condensate fields using floating LNG (FLNG) technology.
The approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is a major milestone on the way to the JV’s scheduled final investment decision for the project in mid-2016.
Operator Woodside plans a total of 64 production wells involving eight drill centers across three gas fields—Torosa, Brecknock, and Calliance—in water ranging 350-700 m deep. The reservoir targets lie 3,500-4,500 m subsea.
The facilities will cover 67 hectares, and the design calls for as many as three FLNG vessels based on Royal Dutch Shell PLC technology, although this may be modified into a staged one-vessel-at-a-time approach, depending on market conditions.
Each vessel will have a capacity to produce 3.9 million tonnes/year of LNG. There will also be a floatel accommodation vessel moored away from the physical Scott Reef geographic feature.
The government’s environmental assessment found that the development poses a low risk to threatened species, but there will be some conditions imposed. These include whale monitoring and the setting of speed limits around the facilities during whale calving season (July-November) and in the Scott Reef channel at all times.
There also will be restrictions regarding artificial light intensity and noise control.
The first of the three fields was found in the early 1970s, the last in 2000. They have total estimated 2C contingent resources of 15.4 tcf of dry gas and 453 million bbl of condensate.
No gas sales have been announced at this stage.
The JV comprises Woodside, Shell, BP PLC, Mitsubishi & Mitsui, and PetroChina.