MELBOURNE --Australia's Federal Government has renewed Major Project Facilitation status for two proposed development schemes off northern Australia.
According to MEO Australia, the decision will assist planning for the Tassie Shoal Methanol and Timor Sea LNG projects. It also showed confidence at ministerial level in MEO's plans to develop Tassie Shoal as a hub for surrounding gas fields.
Tassie Shoal is an area of shallow water around 275 km (171 mi) northwest of Darwin, with an estimated 25 tcf of undeveloped gas spread around various fields within a 150-km (93-mi) radius.
Much of the stranded gas has a medium to high (10-25%) C02 content, but the planned methanol scheme will employ a process that operates most efficiently with a feed gas stream containing 25% C02. That process will also absorb C02 that would normally be vented from the associated LNG project.
MEO plans to install production and storage facilities on Tassie Shoal. The methanol plant and LNG storage tank will be built on concrete gravity structures that will be towed to the site and water-ballasted to rest on the shoal, while the relatively small-footprint LNG plant will be supported by a self-erecting platform.
Much of the methanol converted from the C02 would be used in products such as adhesives, paints, fabrics, and silicons.
MEO says the hub approach would benefit numerous operators of undeveloped gas resources in the region, and would avoid the potential billion-dollar expense of a pipeline and the technological uncertainties of a floating LNG scheme.
Operations for the two projects would be staffed from Darwin, generating up to 1,000 local jobs during the construction phase.
MEO already has the necessary environmental approvals to install and operate two methanol plants and one LNG plant at Tassie Shoal. The projects would encompass gas from the company's own fields in the NT/P68 permit next to Tassie Shoal, including the 2008 Blackwood-1 and Heron-2 discoveries.
Currently the company is farming out some of its interest in the permit to attract funding for further wells in 2010.