West Barracouta to proceed

EXXONMOBIL and BHP have approved the development of the West Barracouta gas field in Bass Strait, bringing new gas supplies to the Australian domestic market.

The project, located in the VIC/L1 block off the Wellington Shire coast, is part of the companies’ continuing investment in the Gippsland Basin.

The company recently completed front-end engineering design work for the project, which is part of the Esso-BHP Gippsland Basin Joint Venture, and awarded contracts to Subsea 7 and OneSubsea, a Schlumberger company.

The project will be tied back to the existing Barracouta infrastructure offshore in Bass Strait, the first offshore field ever discovered in Australia.

ExxonMobil Australia chairman Richard Owen said the company aimed to produce West Barracouta gas for the Australian domestic gas market by 2021.

“We continue to use advanced technology, along with our extensive, decades-long understanding of the Gippsland Basin, to ensure full potential of the resource can be realised,” he said.

The Gippsland Basin Joint Venture continues to supply about 40 per cent of east coast Australian domestic gas demand.

The new project builds on more than $5.5 billion invested by the joint venture in other recent projects in Victoria to supply Australian domestic gas demand, including the Kipper Tuna Turrum offshore project and the Longford Gas Conditioning Plant.

“The Gippsland Basin Joint Venture has 50 years of experience in Bass Strait,” Mr Owen said.

“Since the first Bass Strait well was drilled in 1965, about four billion barrels of crude oil and eight trillion cubic feet of natural gas have been produced.”

ExxonMobil subsidiary Esso Australia operates the Gippsland Basin Joint Venture on behalf of a 50-50 joint venture with BHP Billiton Petroleum (Bass Strait).

BHP Petroleum Australia general manager Graham Salmond said the Gippsland Basin Joint Venture had played a central role in reliably meeting the needs of the eastern Australia domestic gas market for 50 years.

“The West Barracouta project is an important investment, underpinned by strong economics and rates of return, that will unlock a high quality, new gas resource and help offset Bass Strait production decline at a vital time for the east coast market,” he said.

“We are also assessing other potential development opportunities in the Bass Strait to bring new supply to the domestic market.”