Chevron and Woodside Petroleum have opened a new front in WA’s gas-rich North West, revealing yesterday they would spend more than $200 million exploring in 23,000sqkm of the North Carnarvon Basin.

The companies are 50-50 partners in a three-well exploration program that covers three blocks 220km north-west of Dampier.

If gas is found, new wells could be a source for Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone plants. A discovery could also feed the gas-deprived North West Shelf plant, in which Chevron has a one-sixth stake and which is operated by Woodside.

Chevron Australia managing director Nigel Hearne, whose company will operate the permits, highlighted the fact that blocks WA-528-P, WA-529-P and WA-530-P were close to the American major’s existing infrastructure.

The Gorgon plant, on Barrow Island, and the soon-to-be-running Wheatstone facility at Onslow will require huge volumes to remain at full capacity.

“Offshore Western Australia is a global focus area for Chevron and these new exploration blocks add to our already significant gas position as the largest resource holder and liquefaction owner,” Mr Hearne said.

“Chevron Australia has discovered around 50 trillion cubic feet of gas resources, and through collaboration we hope to commercialise this gas through the timely and efficient use of existing equity or third-party infrastructure.”

Over the next three years Chevron and Woodside will spend about $70 million exploring the area and drilling a well.

Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman, who needs to find new sources for the North West Shelf and Pluto plants, also talked up the proximity of the three blocks to pipelines and production facilities.

“This acreage adds significant inventory to Woodside’s Carnarvon Basin portfolio and provides further optionality for future resource development through existing infrastructure,” he said. “As the largest and most experienced infrastructure owner in the region, we are progressing plans to commercialise existing resources through low-cost brownfield developments.

“We continue to work with our partners to realise the most efficient commercial outcomes.

“Continued development of offshore Western Australia will create local jobs, local contracts and prosperity for Western Australia.”


Originally Published in The West Australian on Oct 6, 2017.