Chevron LNG Plan Advances

Thursday, December 14, 2006
According to reports, Chevron Corp. cleared a hurdle in its quest to develop the multibillion-dollar Gorgon LNG project off Australia's western coast after agreeing to support environmental programs to protect a vulnerable species of turtle and other wildlife. The Gorgon venture, which is led by San Ramon-based Chevron, will provide about $26 million to conserve the flatback turtle, the state of Western Australia said. Four of the projects, including Gorgon, are overseas. The one domestic project among the top five is in the Gulf of Mexico, Cooper said. The cost of the project could range from $11.8b to $14.2 billion, according to published reports. Chevron owns 50 percent of the venture, and Shell and Exxon each have 25 percent. The venture could not give an updated estimate for the project cost. It also could not provide a revised date for the final approval or project start-up, said Scott Walker, a Chevron Australia spokesman. The LNG field is west of Barrow Island, which is home to a nature reserve that includes a variety of wildlife.

Engineering studies are due for completion by the second quarter of 2007, and a final investment decision will follow. But that might not happen next year, according to Chevron. The LNG field is expected to produce about 5 million tons a year. About 4.2 million tons would be sold to companies in Japan. The remaining 0.8 million tons per year of LNG, which is natural gas chilled to a liquid, would be taken into the Chevron trading system. The LNG could be sold in markets such as North America and Asia, Walker said. The Gorgon project also needs environmental endorsements from the federal authorities in Australia. Chevron officials say the state government approvals indicate that energy development can coexist with conservation of wildlife such as that on and near Barrow Island. Source: contra Costa Times

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