Sod turned at gas conditioning plant

CONSTRUCTION began on ExxonMobil’s $1 billion gas conditioning plant on Tuesday.

The plant will enable the development of new off-shore gas fields in the Gippsland basin and underpin eastern Australia’s future energy needs.

The finished plant will process gas associated with ExxonMobil’s $4.5 billion project that covers the Kipper, Tuna and Turrum oil and gas fields.

The Kipper, Tuna and Turrum project had already created 1300 construction and installation jobs. The project is the largest domestic oil and gas development on Australia’s eastern seaboard and will provide enough energy to power a city of one million people for 35 years.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the new plant, which will begin processing gas in 2016, would create 250 construction jobs at the site, and provide security for Victoria’s gas stocks.

“The gas processed will maintain current gas supplies by bringing on new reserves,” he said.

“This means that Victoria will have an ongoing stable source of natural gas, a clean burning low emission source of energy, for use now and into the future by business, industry and households.

“The project will not only secure Victoria’s gas needs for the foreseeable future, it will also be able to supply gas to interstate markets through the gas transmission lines that connect to New South Wales and South Australia.”

Mr Ryan said the project would ensure Esso continued to be a strong contributor to the Gippsland and Victorian economy for many years to come.

“The Longford complex, which currently has four plants operating 24-hours a day, seven days a week, has been supplying most of Victoria’s gas supply since 1969,” he said.

“During this period Esso has been a strong contributor to the local and state economies, employing 1800 people, the majority of whom are based in regional Victoria.”

Mr Ryan said the state government had worked with ExxonMobil, Wellington Shire and relevant government agencies regarding development approvals for the new plant. CB and I Constructors have been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the plant and will manage the construction site.

ExxonMobil chairman Richard Owen said the project was part of Esso and BHP Billiton’s significant investment program in natural gas projects in Gippsland.

“Once the plant is operational in 2016, we will deliver 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas to the east Australia market, helping replace declining production from existing fields,” he said.

“Our plans for Longford make this an exciting time for Gippsland and Victoria.

“The construction of the plant requires the effort of many hundreds of people working closely together to ensure the project is developed in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

Initial activity at the site will include the establishment of basic infrastructure including administration buildings, training facilities, roads and parking to accommodate the construction workforce.

Warehousing and laydown areas adjacent to the new plant will also be established to temporarily store materials and equipment.