Kipper Tuna Turrum oil, gas production begins

PRODUCTION has begun from the largest domestic oil and gas development on the eastern seaboard.

ExxonMobil has announced the start-up of the Kipper Tuna Turrum project off the Gippsland coast.

Natural gas production has begun from the Tuna field via two new pipelines and oil is being produced from the Turrum field through the new Marlin B platform.

The $4.5 billion Kipper Tuna Turrum project is being operated by ExxonMobil subsidiary, Esso Australia Resources.

ExxonMobil Australia chairman Richard Owen said the Kipper Tuna Turrum project would help secure eastern Australia’s energy future, holding enough energy to power a city of a million people for 35 years.

“Development of Australia’s natural gas resources will also yield significant environmental benefits,” he said.

“Natural gas is cleaner-burning and, when used to generate electricity, can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 60 per cent.”

The project has also delivered a significant direct impact on the Gippsland and Victorian economies, generating work for local suppliers and contractors.

Mr Owen said 1300 full time jobs were sustained during the construction and installation phase, and the Australian content for the project had reached an estimated $2.8 billion.

Production from the Kipper Tuna Turrum project will help maintain current gas production levels from Bass Strait, which have been producing for more than 40 years.

The Turrum and Tuna projects are part of the Gippsland Basin Joint Venture, in which Esso Australia Resources, as operator, and BHP Billiton Petroleum each have a 50 per cent interest.

The Turrum field holds about one trillion cubic feet of gas and 110 million barrels of oil and gas liquids.

A new platform, Marlin B, has been constructed and linked by a bridge to the existing Marlin A platform in Bass Strait. This is the first platform installed in Bass Strait in more than a decade.

The platform will process additional oil production and gas which will be piped back to existing facilities at Longford.

Gas associated with the production of oil from Turrum will be re-injected until the Longford Gas Conditioning Plant comes online in 2016. Work on the gas conditioning plant will begin in December, creating another 250 jobs during construction.

The Tuna reservoir, which has been producing oil for many years, has been further developed to produce additional gas and associated liquids from the field. This has been done by converting existing West Tuna facilities, and also using new pipelines to deliver production into the existing gas system.

Kipper production is expected to come on line in 2016, following the installation of mercury removal facilities.

The Kipper field holds about 620 billion cubic feet of recoverable gas and 30 million barrels of condensate/LPG. It is located in 100 metres of water, about 45 kilometres off the Gippsland coast.

Facilities for the Kipper field are complete and include subsea wells, coolers and a manifold. The produced gas and condensate will be transported via a new looped pipeline laid on the seabed to the existing West Tuna platform.

Two new pipelines, one from West Tuna to Marlin and another from Marlin to Snapper have been installed for Kipper production and development of the Tuna gas cap.

The Kipper venture participants are Esso Australia Resources (32.5 per cent and operator) and subsidiaries of BHP Billiton (32.5 per cent) and Santos (35 per cent).

Acting Premier and Minister for State Development Peter Ryan has welcomed ExxonMobil’s announcement.

“This project will benefit Victoria for many years, and by 2016, ExxonMobil also expect to be producing gas from the Turrum and Kipper fields, with gas to be processed at a new gas conditioning plant planned for Longford,” he said.

Mr Ryan said that the state government had worked with ExxonMobil, Wellington Shire Council and government agencies regarding development approvals for the new Longford gas conditioning plant which would create significant new jobs in Gippsland once construction began.

“With these new resources coming on stream Victoria will have additional supplies of natural gas, a clean burning low emission source of energy for electricity generation and for use by business, industry and households in Victoria,” he said.