Chevron cheered by its two projects
The first two processing facilities at the Gorgon LNG project are operating near capacity and commissioning of the final train is under way, with production expected early in the second quarter, according to Chevron chief executive John Watson.
Mr Watson told analysts last week that after a difficult 2016 Chevron saw a great year for production from their “terrific” Gorgon and Wheatstone projects, as the company spends $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) more on construction.
“The only remaining thing to do is to bring on the Gorgon offshore field, we’ve been running on the Jansz field,” Mr Watson said of the two giant gas sources underpinning the $US54 billion project.
Gorgon shipped its first LNG cargo in March but the first train had many shutdowns throughout the year.
Mr Watson said lessons learnt from train one allowed train two to achieve more than 90 per cent capacity within a week of its October start-up.
The turnaround in the performance of the project has been dramatic. This year 10 LNG cargoes have been shipped, compared with 29 in the eight months last year since train one started production.
Mr Watson said Chevron expected a full year of production out of the first two trains.
He said Wheatstone’s onshore plant was making good progress with all modules for the two trains in position.
“Ongoing hook-up and commissioning of the offshore platform is the critical path activity,” he said, referring to additional work on the offshore platform’s piping systems.
“We’ve supplemented our workforce on the platform, but it hasn’t changed our expectation of a midyear start date,” he said.
Wheatstone train two is expected to start six to eight months later.
Referring to Chevron’s one-sixth stake in the North West Project, as well as Gorgon and Wheatstone, Mr Watson said: “Australia is a terrific asset” with substantial gas resources. However, building additional trains at Gorgon and Wheatstone was not on the horizon.
“We want to really get the most we can out of the gear and hardware we have,” Mr Watson said.
While there is a lot of additional LNG supply coming on in the short-term, the long-term demand for LNG was good.
Customers see LNG as better for the environment, like the security of supply Australia offers and it is price competitive in many markets, he said. “By 2025 or so people are looking at demand increases that could be 65 per cent or more.
“I don’t think we’re yet at the place where you’re going to see a lot of FIDs taken on new projects but it’s been encouraging to see a bump-up in prices.”
One of those potential new LNG investments is Kitimat, the west coast of Canada 50/50 joint venture with Woodside. Mr Watson said Kitimat needed a sales contract to underpin it.
“I don’t want to represent that we’re very far along in those discussions,” he said, citing the economics of the project as the primary reason.
The Chevron boss said he was very pleased with the agenda of the Trump administration.
“We have seen an avalanche of regulation over the last decade and putting a more balanced cost-benefit framework in place to assess the value of those regulations ... is quite positive for our business,” he said.
The Gorgon LNG processing plant produces gas supplied to Synergy.