The commercial start-up of Train 1, scheduled for Q4 2015 at Australia Pacific LNG’s (APLNG) Curtis Island facility, will have been yet another important milestone for the country’s gas export ambitions.
The multi-billion dollar plant in Queensland produces LNG from coal seam gas (CSG). LNG’s environmental advantages over coal are additional selling points in markets that see natural gas as a transition fuel while they wind down coal use and ramp up renewables. (see below, Gas versus coal)
“We knew there would be demand from countries within Asia Pacific with insufficient domestic gas supplies,” said Warwick King, president, ConocoPhillips Australia East. The US oil and gas company is a foundation shareholder of APLNG, and responsible for operating and maintaining the LNG facility on behalf of the joint venture.
“As people develop greener perspectives and switch fuels, LNG will be seen as a cleaner preferred option, particularly where emissions are a major concern,” he added.
The two-train facility is supplied entirely from APLNG’s equity gas resources, which are transported via a 530-kilometre pipeline from the Surat and Bowen Basins.
The two trains will have a name-plate capacity of nine million tonnes per annum (mtpa) with take-or-pay contracts with Sinopec and Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Company. Shipments are by LNG tanker from Curtis Island.
Work on the LNG facility started in 2011. King expects Train 2 to be operating commercially by late Q2 2016. Bechtel, the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for both trains, is expected to be off-site in late 2016.
Technical improvementsConocoPhillips’ proprietary Optimized Cascade® process for LNG production was utilized. The technology has a 40-year record of success and continuous improvement worldwide, and presented few technical challenges on Curtis Island, King said.
Lessons learned from ConocoPhillips’ LNG plant at Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, have been applied at Curtis Island. These include installing reversing gears in cooling-system fans to prevent them spinning the wrong way in high winds.
The Darwin facility was one of the first LNG plants to operate in Australia and also uses the Optimized Cascade® process as the basis for its liquefaction technology. It has a design capacity of 3.7mtpa and was commissioned in January 2006, so has generated nearly a decade of lessons for the wider group.
King hopes that APLNG will become the company’s most efficient LNG facility. “We can apply latest technologies and learn from earlier plants. With this head start, we should be able to send learnings back to ConocoPhillips’ other facilities.”