Subject: Darwin in race for another gas plant

Northern Territory News

Darwin in race for another gas plant


June 3rd, 2009

A DECISION on whether to build another multi-billion-dollar gas plant in Darwin will be made within a few months.

The gas would come from the Sunrise field, 450km northwest of the city.

The three options being considered are:

PIPING the gas 450km to an LNG plant in Darwin.

BUILDING a floating processing plant at the field.

PIPING the gas 150km to an LNG plant in East Timor.

The last option has all but been ruled out by the four venture partners who control Sunrise.

East Timor is still politically unstable and lacks a skilled workforce.

Also, there is a deep underwater trench between Sunrise and the country, making a pipeline a far greater engineering challenge than the other two options.

Don Voelte, managing director of Woodside Energy, which owns a third of the gas field, refused to speculate on what option would be chosen.

He said the process of choosing between a floating plant or a Darwin plant would begin at the end of this month.

The final decision would be made by the end of the year.

If Darwin is chosen, a LNG complex would be built within five years.

The project - pipeline and processing complex - would cost billions of dollars and create more than 1000 jobs in Darwin alone.

Darwin has one of only two LNG plants in Australia - the ConocoPhilips operations at Wickham Point.

Inpex is likely to build another plant at Blaydin Point - the final investment decision is due late this year or early next.

Mr Voelte, in Darwin for the oil and gas conference, said sentiment would not play a part in the final decision over Sunrise.

"The best commercial option will be chosen," he said.

Sunrise is estimated to hold nine trillion cubic feet of gas and 300 million barrels of condensate.

The Sunrise development partners are Woodside, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Oasaka Gas.

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