Apache's $400 million Balnaves development off the Pilbara could be set for another timetable slippage amid speculation the project's production vessel cannot connect to the oilfield's wells.
It is understood the Armada Claire floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel has been anchored over the field for the past two weeks while Apache works out how to rectify the design fault, or return the ship to Singapore for fixing.
Balnaves, operated by Apache (65 per cent) on behalf of partner Kuwait's KUFPEC (35 per cent), was sanctioned for development in 2011 and designed to produce up to 30,000 barrels a day from two production wells. The initial timetable guidance was early 2014 before later refined to a second-quarter start-up.
It is unclear how much the hold-up is costing the Balnaves partners and Apache would not discuss the design problem.
"Field installation activity with the Armada Claire FPSO is currently in progress and production remains scheduled for Q3," Apache spokesman David Parker said yesterday.
Balnaves, 180km north of Barrow Island and close to the Wheatstone gas field, was discovered in 2009 when Apache was appraising the Julimar-Brunello gas find. Julimar-Brunello has since been folded into the broader Chevron-led Wheatstone LNG development, with Apache and KUFPEC equity holders.