Green Light for Wheatstone and Julimar Developments

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Editorials
2/20/2012

Partnership puts Apache in driver’s seat of worldwide LNG market

Apache’s exploration success in Western Australia’s Carnarvon Basin – including the world-class Julimar and Brunello discoveries – opened the door for the company’s entry into the growing global market for liquefied natural gas.

Apache announced Sept. 26 that it will proceed with the development of Julimar and Brunello and the Chevron-operated Wheatstone LNG Project.

Apache drilled the Julimar-1 discovery in 2007. Production tests in two zones in the prolific Triassic Mungaroo formation flowed an eye-popping combined 85 million cubic feet (MMcf) per day.

The nearby Brunello discovery – with test rates of 72.5 MMcf of gas and 1,230 barrels of condensate per day – and subsequent appraisal drilling led the Australia Region to the conclusion that it had a massive resource that would require the company to explore new ways to monetize the gas.

Days after the Julimar-Wheatstone announcement, Apache gave the green light to developing Balnaves – a shallow oil field discovered in 2009 during exploration and appraisal drilling adjacent to the Julimar-Brunello complex.

LNG projects are high-capital developments that require large-scale reserves to support long-term, premium-priced contracts. The Wheatstone partners have signed long-term LNG offtake contracts with two Japanese utilities.

Building on the experience gained at Wheatstone, Apache is the operator of the planned Kitimat LNG facility in northern British Columbia. That project – which will provide access to North Asia’s LNG market for Apache’s production from the Horn River Basin and elsewhere in Western Canada – currently is in the front-end engineering and design stage.

Speaking at the ceremony in Perth, Western Australia, announcing the decision to proceed with Wheatstone, Tom Maher, Australia Region vice president and managing director, summed up why Wheatstone and the upstream Julimar Development Project (JDP), are so vitally important for Apache:

The projects are key drivers in the company’s expansion into the growing worldwide LNG market and represent Apache’s first LNG project to be sanctioned.

  • Partnership in Wheatstone enables Apache and joint venture partner KUFPEC to unlock recoverable gas in excess of 2.1 trillion cubic feet from Julimar and Brunello, two of Apache’s largest gas discoveries. 
  • At an estimated $4 billion, the Wheatstone and Julimar projects represent Apache’s largest-ever capital investment to date. 
  • Apache is the second-largest operating volume producer of oil and gas in the Carnarvon Basin; Wheatstone will be Apache’s fourth domestic gas plant in Western Australia and the third to be built this decade.

Also speaking at the signing ceremony, the Hon. Colin Barnett, MLA, Western Australia’s premier, commended Chevron and joint-venture partners Apache, KUFPEC and Shell for “the quickest and smoothest approval process for a major project in my experience.”

So, who within Apache has made all this possible, and what does it mean for the company moving forward?

Warren Ford, Australia Region deputy managing director and director of projects, said the successful Final Investment Decision (FID) for the Julimar Development Project was the result of a collaborative effort by the Australia Region and corporate office in Houston from the first exploration success in 2007.

“The FID on Julimar is the culmination of more than four years of work from a very dedicated cross-functional team of people, locally and internationally, who recognized the potential significance of this project for Apache.

“The whole Apache team has a real ’can do’ approach to the project and a genuine desire to make it work,” Ford said.

In addition to outstanding team work, other key success factors in bringing the project to this critical stage included:

  • Recognizing the need for and dedicating a multidisciplinary team to project implementation.
  • Establishing a sound working relationship with joint venture partners to ensure alignment. 
  • Meeting deadlines.
  • Engaging effectively with the state and federal governments.

With the FID, the Julmar Development Project now moves into the project execution phase, and for many the hard work is just beginning.

“As a project team our vision is now to deliver the project safely, to the required functionality, on time, and on budget,” Warren said.

The Julimar Development Project is a subsea development that will supply raw gas to the Wheatstone Project. Apache holds a 13-percent interest in the Wheatstone Project and has a 65-percent interest in the Julimar Development Project of which it is the operator. First production is planned for 2016.

For more information on the Julimar Development Project please visit:  www.apachecorp.com/Operations/Australia/Projects/Julimar.aspx

First production from the $438-million Balnaves development is scheduled in 2014, with gross peak production of approximately 30,000 barrels of oil per day and estimated gross recoverable resource of 17 million barrels of oil and 30 billion cubic feet of gas. Two horizontal production wells will be connected to a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel via subsea tiebacks. One water injection well will be used to maintain reservoir pressure. Gas will be reinjected into another reservoir for later production as part of the Wheatstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) Project.

Apache has agreed to lease the Armada Claire, an FPSO owned by Bumi Armada with processing capacity of 80,000 barrels of oil and 50 million cubic feet of natural gas per day and storage capacity for 750,000 barrels.

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