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    Exxon Takes FID on West Barracouta


The US supermajor and BHP expect to produce from the gas field offshore Victoria in three years.

by: Mark Smedley

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Exxon Takes FID on West Barracouta

ExxonMobil said late December 12 that it had taken the final investment decision with BHP to develop the West Barracouta gas field in Bass Strait to bring new gas to the Australian domestic market. First gas is expected in 2021. The project, located in the VIC/L1 block offshore Victoria, is part of their continuing investment in the Gippsland Basin.

West Barracouta will be tied back to the existing Barracouta infrastructure offshore in the Bass Strait, the first offshore field ever discovered in Australia. ExxonMobil did not give a specific cost estimate for the project; however partner BHP said it would cost A$200mn ($144mn) to develop.

The US supermajor said it recently completed the front-end engineering design work for the project, part of the 50%-50% Esso-BHP Gippsland Basin Joint Venture, operated by ExxonMobil, and awarded contracts to Subsea 7 and Schlumberger-owned OneSubsea.

The Gippsland Basin Joint Venture continues to supply about 40% of east coast Australian domestic gas demand. The new project builds on more than $4bn (A$5.5bn) invested by the same 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.

ExxonMobil Australia chairman Richard Owen said: "Since the first Bass Strait well was drilled in 1965, about four billion barrels of crude oil and 8 trillion ft3 of natural gas have been produced."

BHP Petroleum Australia general manager Graham Salmond added that the new development "help offset Bass Strait production decline at a vital time for the east coast market. The Gippsland Basin Joint Venture has played a central role in reliably meeting the needs of the Eastern Australia domestic gas market for 50 years".