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Browse gas project needs to tap 64 wells
The West Australian

Woodside Petroleum and its Browse LNG consortium yesterday spelt out the complexities of developing their venture off the Kimberley coast, declaring the need for 64 production wells to tap hydrocarbons in the Brecknock, Calliance and Torosa fields.

In an environmental approval document filed with Federal regulators, operator Woodside also flagged a 50-year producing life for the Browse venture, suggest- ing it anticipates further exploration success to complement the existing contingent reserve of 15.9 trillion cubic feet of gas and 436 million barrels of condensate.

Woodside said the three floating production vessels used to extract the gas and liquids would each be capable of processing 3.9 to four million tonnes of LNG a year and 17,000 barrels of condensate a day. Combined, the proposed output is similar to the 12mtpa plant once envisaged for land-based processing at James Price Point, north of Broome.

Woodside is expected to begin front-end engineering and design next year, in line with a plan to sanction development in 2015.

Woodside used yesterday's document to reiterate the consortium's desire for the "earliest commercial development of the Browse Basin resource in a way that will provide long lasting economic and employment benefits in WA and Australia".

Woodside is yet to reveal the cost of developing the Browse fields using FLNG vessels, and it has never confirmed industry estimates the James Price Point option would have cost as much as $80 billion. While much of the debate has focused on on-shore construction costs, the Browse venture's offshore development was also regarded as high cost.

Yesterday's document release spells out for the first time the project's complex upstream component. Torosa, in particular, was thought to be challenging and Woodside described the field as "more compartmentalised" than Brecknock and Calliance and therefore requiring more wells.

The Chevron-operated Gorgon venture has forecast up to 30 wells over a 30-year period to exploit a much bigger gas resource.

Woodside also flagged that an onshore supply base would be required, though it did not list its preferred location. It is expected that Woodside will be looking at Broome, a greenfields site at James Price Point or expanding Dampier.

·Woodside has extended its frontier exploration footprint after picking up two permits off New Zealand, including in the Great South Basin.