NOPSEMA rejects Wheatstone start-up plan

Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has sent back Chevron Australia Pty. Ltd.’s start-up and operations environment plan for the Wheatstone domestic gas-LNG project off Western Australia saying the plan is not sufficiently robust.

The plan includes the offshore platform at Wheatstone, its subsea facilities, and the subsea pipeline to the gas and LNG plant at Ashburton North near Onslow.

NOPSEMA says Chevron has not outlined an appropriate implementation strategy, including monitoring, recording and reporting arrangements, for bringing the offshore facilities on stream.

The federal regulator says the proposal was not appropriate for the nature and scale of start-up of the project, which lies 50 km from the Montebello Islands National Park and Barrow Island (a Class A reserve). It added that the proposal did not demonstrate that the environmental risks of the start-up will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable.

The offshore Wheatstone facilities will produce, gather, and dewater the field’s hydrocarbons before sending the dry gas and condensate via pipeline to the shore plant.

For its part, Chevron says it will respond to NOPSEMA’s comments and address the outstanding matters before submitting a revised plan for bringing Wheatstone on stream.

Chevron says this decision will not impact the critical path of the Wheatstone project.

The Chevron knock-back follows a similar rejection of Woodside Petroleum Ltd.’s operations environment plan for Julimar-Brunello field operations earlier this year. Julimar and Brunello will supply gas to the Wheatstone project.

Woodside submitted a revised plan to NOPSEMA this week and is awaiting a response.

Chevron has requested approval to purchase gas from the Dampier-Bunbury gas trunkline to aid commissioning of the Wheatstone shore facilities before offshore production begins. There will be further testing of all systems once the wells and offshore facilities are brought on stream.

Following completion of full commissioning, Wheatstone production will be gradually ramped up to capacity over a 6-24 month period. Production is scheduled to begin during the second half of 2016 with first LNG expected in mid-2017.

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