Scarborough partners mulling FLNG option

ExxonMobil and BHP Billiton are considering what would be the world's largest-capacity floating LNG facility for the Scarborough field in Australia's Carnarvon basin.

Mcculley
McculleyRussell McCulley • Houston

ExxonMobil and BHP Billiton are considering what would be the world's largest-capacity floating LNG facility for the Scarborough field in Australia's Carnarvon basin. If given the go-ahead, the 480 m by 75 m wide (1,575 ft by 246 ft) FLNG unit would be capable of processing around 6 MM tons per annum of LNG, an ExxonMobil spokesman toldOffshore.

ExxonMobil communications advisor Aaron Stryk confirmed that the company has submitted an environmental plan to Australian authorities and said a development decision could come in the second half of 2013. "A final concept select decision will be made following completion of engineering and design work which will enable a comparison of all options for developing Scarborough," Stryk said.

"FLNG is considered the best development option for Scarborough based on a balance of economic, environmental, and social reasons. FLNG reduces capital costs by eliminating the need for infrastructure like LNG loading jetties, dredging of shipping channels, pipelines, and site clearance. It can reduce development costs of gas in a remote offshore field, and enable development of a resource that may otherwise remain undeveloped. It has a much smaller environmental footprint compared to an onshore LNG development and would eliminate the need for dredging."

The company has not provided a cost estimate for the project, and Stryk would not comment on the possible timing of a final investment decision. ExxonMobil operates the Scarborough prospect in a 50/50 joint venture with BHP Billiton.

Shell's Prelude FLNG project, also offshore Western Australia, is in development with a targeted startup date in 2017, which could make it the first FLNG project to go onstream. Prelude's floating production system will be roughly the same size as the Scarborough unit, but will have a production capacity of around 3.6 MM tons per annum of LNG.

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