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The $US37 billion Ichthys LNG project is on track to start up next March as its two giant vessels moored about 200km off the Kimberley are readied for production.

Toshiaki Kitamura, chief executive of operator Inpex, told analysts in Tokyo this week that the first production of condensate, LNG and LPG would meet the target of March 2018 and shipments would follow after that.

The project had a difficult start to the year. Contractors building the power plant and the LNG tanks walked off the Darwin LNG site in January and March, respectively, and in April first production was pushed back six months.

Now the offshore central processing facility, the Ichthys Explorer, and the floating production and storage facility Ichthys Venturer (pictured with the crane ship Jascon 25) are undergoing hook-up and commissioning after 6000km tows from South Korea.

 

Mr Kitamura said the company had completed 14 of the planned 17 wells, enough to start production, and was working to connect piping near the subsea wells. He said construction at two of the six areas at the Darwin processing plant was complete.

Yesterday the gas turbines at the power plant, for which Monadelphous was brought in to help finish in June, started up for the first time.

Construction of the Ichthys project started in 2012 and the activity peaked last year.

It is expected to operate for 40 years, producing 8.9 million tonnes of LNG, 1.65 million tonnes of LPG and at the peak 100,000 barrels of condensate a year. Inpex owns 62 per cent of Ichthys.

 

Originally published in The West Australian on November 11, 2017