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New $5.5b Longford plant to ‘boost production’ energy market

The newly completed $5.5 billion Kipper Tuna Turrum gas fields and conditioning plant at Longford in Victoria’s east will help boost production for the domestic energy market, Esso Australia says. The plant will process 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to eastern Australia, which is enough to power a city of a million people for 35 years.

The project, by Esso Australia and its joint partners BHP Billiton and Japanese company Mitsui, is the largest domestic gas development on Australia’s east coast. Exxon Mobil chairman Richard Owen said the investment marked a new phase of gas production in Australia.

Mr Owen said the Longford facility had gone from being a predominately crude oil business to being focussed more on gas with oil on the side. Future offshore gas development would involve more complex and costly gas extraction methods, and they have increased geological and chemical complexity.

There are three other gas plants at Esso’s Longford facility, which supply 75 per cent of Victoria’s gas. The new gas conditioning plant removes the CO2 and mercury from the gas before it is distributed to the market.

Federal Resources Minister, Senator Matthew Canavan said gas prices were at record highs and the investment by Esso and its joint venture partners was welcomed. He said while the Federal Government’s gas export licensing scheme aimed to ensure sufficient gas supply in Australia, restricting exports was not the long term solution to the country’s energy security problems.

More than 3,000 people were involved in the construction of the Kipper Tuna Turrum project, and there are 23 offshore platforms and subsea installations in Bass Strait that feed a network of 600 kilometres of pipelines carrying oil and gas.

Last month the Federal Government announced it will impose export restrictions on gas that could force producers to boost supply for domestic users before they are allowed to send gas offshore.

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