ExxonMobil to Install Giant Floating LNG Facility Off Australia

flng shell prelude
A rendering of Royal Dutch Shell’s Prelude Floating LNG facility destined for Australia’s NW Shelf, image courtesy Shell

(Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. oil company, plans to develop a floating liquefied natural gas project to develop the Scarborough field off the coast of Western Australia, according to a government filing today.

Exxon, whose partner in the field is Melbourne-based BHP Billiton Ltd., expects to make a decision on whether to go ahead with the floating LNG venture in 2014 or 2015, with the project starting production in 2020 or 2021, the documents lodged on the Australian Environment Department’s website show.

Energy companies from Royal Dutch Shell Plc to Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. want to turn natural gas into liquid at sea. In Australia, Shell is developing the Prelude floating LNG vessel — expected to be as long as the Empire State Building and weigh six times as much as the biggest aircraft carrier — after costs for onshore LNG plants in the country surged.

Exxon’s floating LNG facility in the Carnarvon Basin off northwest Australia is expected to be about 495 meters (1,624 feet) long and 75 meters wide, according to the filing. About 12 production wells will be drilled in two phases, Irving, Texas- based Exxon said in the documents.

The Hague-based Shell’s floating LNG venture will cost $10.8 billion to $12.6 billion, according to figures the oil company provided when it approved the project in 2011.

РJames Paton, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.