MECHANICAL problems have forced Chevron to halt production at its US$54bn Gorgon LNG project in Australia just weeks after operations first began.
The hitch affects cooling, preventing Chevron from chilling the natural gas into a liquid for export aboard shipping tankers.
'We are working through some mechanical issues with the propane refrigerant circuit on train 1 at the Gorgon plant site,' a Chevron spokesman told The Chemical Engineer in an emailed statement. He could not give any further details other than the situation is being assessed and more information will be available shortly.
The facility has been beset by delays brought about by labour disputes and interruptions to equipment deliveries. When production started last month, the project was US$17bn over cost and two years over schedule, with the company under pressure from the severe drop in oil prices.
Gas from two offshore fields is piped to a 15.6m t/y LNG plant on the remote Barrow Island off Western Australia. LNG is offloaded via a 2.1 km long jetty onto LNG tankers for shipping abroad. Chevron announced on 20 March that the first tanker of LNG had left for Japan. Gorgon also pipes natural gas to the Western Australia mainland for domestic use.
Australia has a number of large LNG facilities under construction, including the Wheatstone project, also majority owned by Chevron. Australia is projected to surpass Qatar as the world’s largest producer of LNG in 2020.
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