THE NEXT PHASE
The Ichthys LNG project is almost complete, with the finishing touches now being made before first production begins next year.
As each day passes, the $US37 billion Inpex-operated Ichthys project is moving closer to production, with commissioning well and truly underway ahead of first LNG in early 2018.
AS each day passes, the Inpex-operated Ichthys LNG project moves closer towards start-up.
It’s been a long-road for the INPEX team and its contractors, but the arrival in the field of the semi-submersible central processinig facility (CPF) and floating production, storage and offloading facility (FPSO) earlier in the year, marked the ‘beginning of the end’ of the construction campaign.
The Ichthys project was originally scheduled to be complete at the end of 2016 but was pushed back to the third quarter of 2017 following a detailed review into the development schedule.
On 28 April, further delays were announced with first production of condensate, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) now targeted early next year.
The delay was attributed to many factors, including a number of financial conflicts between INPEX subcontractors over cost overruns.
But with the dust well and truly settled, the Ichthys project was now more than 90 per cent complete.
“Construction of the Inpex-operated Ichthys LNG Project onshore and offshore facilities is finished and the commissioning activities are well underway,” Ichthys project managing director Louis Bon said.
“The success of the Ichthys LNG Project to date is testament to the tens of thousands of people around the globe who have put their will power, collaboration and technical skills to work in making the project a reality.”
About 12,000 people are currently working on the project in Australia; including onshore and offshore, bringing all of the facilities online, safely and reliably in readiness for first gas.
Travelling more than 5600km from shipyards in South Korea, the project's central processing facility Ichthys Explorer – the world’s largest semisubmersible platform – arrived in the Browse Basin in late May, followed by the Ichthys Venturer FPSO in August.
The massive offshore facilities were now safely moored in the 250m deep waters of the Ichthys Field, with hook-up and commissioning work now in full swing.
Mr Bon said the safe and efficient mooring of both vessels heralded “another successful milestone” for the project.
“Completing the complex operation of connecting 49 pre-installed mooring chains, weighing more than 40,000 tonnes, from the seabed to the CPF and FPSO is testament to the well-coordinated work of our personnel,” Mr Bon said.
An associated LNG carrier, the Pacific Breeze, which will supply LNG from the project to a customer in Taiwan was named in a ceremony at Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ (KHI) Sakaide Works in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan, where construction was recently completed.
The Gas Export Pipeline (GEP) is also in a state of readiness for operational start up, while the drilling of production wells are on schedule, with sufficient wells now drilled to support first production.
INPEX and its contractors were also busy finishing off onshore infrastructure at Bladin Point, Darwin.
Two of the biggest challenges faced this year were without doubt the completion of the four cryogenic tanks, (2 LNG and 2 LPG) and the combined cycle power plant (CCPP), which came to a halt earlier in the year when workers were stood down in the heat of a subcontractor dispute.
In January, CIMIC subsidiary UGL and its joint venture partner CH2M pulled the plug on its $550 million Ichthys power plant contract with JKC Australia LNG for the design, construction and commissioning of the CCPP.
In March a second contract row followed, this time between Ichthys Project subcontractors Laing O'rourke and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), over the construction of the cryogenic LNG tanks.
Wa-based engineering firm Monadelphous Group, which already held a separate contract for the project, was hired by JKC to help deliver the CCPP, and by Kawasaki Heavy Industries to complete work on cryogenic tanks.
In mid-october, INPEX said the construction and commissioning of the onshore facilities was “progressing well”, with the onshore plant being progressively handed over to INPEX onshore operations staff.
In a September newsletter, the company stated one of the final steps in construction of the LNG storage tanks was completed, with the installation of the cryogenic pumps in LNG Tank 1.
JKC tanks project manager Antony Bean said it was exciting to see the pumps being installed.
“construction of the inpex-operated ichthys LNG Project onshore and offshore facilities is finished and the commissioning activities are well underway.”
“The pumps are critical to the operation of the tanks and the plant, and are always installed in the final stages of the tank’s construction so that they can be safely preserved before the tank goes into cooldown,” Mr Bean said.
“The pumps are basically a giant version of a sump pump you would find at the local hardware store, except they operate in LNG at minus 161 degrees Celsius.
“A jib crane was used to lower the pumps into a pump column at roof level and down into the tanks.”
There are three pumps in each tank, and once operational, each pump will be able to shift about two million litres of LNG per hour.
An INPEX team was also now occupying the recently opened operations complex at Bladin Point, which is made up of 20 buildings, including a laboratory, central control building, workshops, warehouses and administration facilities.
The next phase: production
When fully operational, the Ichthys project will produce up to 8.9 million tonnes (mt) of LNG and about 1.65 mt of LPG per year, along with 100,000 barrels of condensate per day at peak.
In July an economic impact assessment report by ACIL Allen Consulting, commissioned by INPEX, examined the project’s contribution to the Northern Territory, WA and Commonwealth economies since construction began in 2012 through to 2050.
It found $5.8 billion of Australian LNG, LPG and condensate exports would be derived from the project each year across the study period, $190bn in additional GDP generated, and $73bn in tax revenue for State and Federal Governments in Australia; an average of $1.9bn per annum.
INPEX said Australa is a core region for the company, with Ichthys designed and built with expansion and longevity in mind, capacity for an additional four processing trains at Bladin Point, and five tie in points across the gas export pipeline.
The company also maintains interests in 12 exploration blocks in the Browse Basin (it currently operated six), and has an exploration interest in the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory, signalling future growth opportunities.
“With an operational life of more than 40 years, the Inpex-operated Ichthys LNG Project has and will continue to provide substantial contributions to Australia through a range of economic, employment and other benefits for generations to come,” Mr Bon said.
The FPSO has arrived in the Ichthys field.
The Ichthys project was now more than 90 per cent complete.
The CPF arriving in Australian waters.
The FPSO leaving its shipyard in South Korea earlier this year.