Gas conditioning plan confirmed

CONSTRUCTION of a new gas conditioning plant at Esso’s Longford facilities will begin during the third quarter of 2013.

Esso Australia, a part of the ExxonMobil Australia group of companies, announced it would support development of domestic natural gas supplies by building the gas conditioning plant.

Pending regulatory approval, the plant will process gas from the multi-billion dollar Kipper Tuna Turrum Project, Australia’s largest domestic gas development located on the eastern seaboard.

The news, revealed in the Gippsland Times on November 23, was confirmed last week.

Esso Australia will be the operator and will be investing $500 million for its share of the project, including associated works within the existing Longford facilities.

ExxonMobil Australia chairman John Dashwood said the gas conditioning plant was an important project for Gippsland and would create around 250 direct construction jobs as well as providing other indirect employment opportunities.

Mr Dashwood said the gas conditioning plant was part of ExxonMobil Australia’s current multi-billion dollar investment program in natural gas projects, which would help provide energy to enable economic growth while also meeting a commitment to a cleaner energy future.

“Australian energy consumption will continue to grow during the next 20 years,” he said.

“The gas conditioning plant will process gas to help meet this expected increase in demand. And because of its cleaner-burning qualities, natural gas is a powerful option for reducing the environmental impact of energy use.”

Esso Australia’s facilities at Longford have been operating for more than 40 years but were designed to treat natural gas with a different composition.

The new plant is needed to condition Kipper Tuna Turrum natural gas to meet gas quality specifications for sale into the market.

Esso Australia is working with a number of government bodies to ensure the gas conditioning plant project is completed safely and with minimal impact on the surrounding community and environment.

Construction of the plant is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2013, subject to appropriate regulatory approvals.

It is anticipated the facility will be operational in 2016. Esso Australia and co-venturer BHP Billiton each have 50 percent equity in the project.

Deputy Premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan welcomed Esso’s committment of its share of funding to the $1 billion gas conditioning plant.

“I welcome today’s announcement by Esso Australia that parent company ExxonMobil Australia, in partnership with BHP Billiton, will invest a further $1 billion in Gippsland for the construction of a new gas conditioning plant at Longford, alongside existing facilities.

“The new facility at Longford will create around 250 direct construction jobs and countless more indirect jobs,” Mr Ryan said.

“Esso Australia has been a strong source of employment in Gippsland for more than 40 years and today’s announcement ensures this will continue to be the case for many years to come.

“The Victorian Coalition Government remains committed to supporting local jobs and industry through projects such as the recently opened $56.9 million third and final stage of the South Gippsland Highway Sale to Longford Flood Protection Project, which will see far less frequent road closures due to flooding, providing local residents and industry with a much more reliable route between Sale and Longford.”