Woodside Energy remains confident it will in 2026 ship the first liquefied natural gas cargo from its $12 billion Scarborough project in Australia, despite growing market sentiment that the schedule could slip following the recent court ruling that overturned the prior regulatory approval for a key 4D seismic survey for the giant gas field development.

The environmental approvals process is imposing a significant burden and complexity on project proponents, communities and other stakeholders, the Australian operator admitted.

However, Woodside has now reportedly resubmitted to offshore regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), its plans for the proposed seismic survey after consulting with 11 indigenous groups after the late September shock court decision.

On Woodside’s investor briefing day on Wednesday, chief executive Meg O’Neill said the company is continuing to engage with NOPSEMA and other stakeholders to progress secondary environmental approvals for Scarborough in support of its targeted first LNG cargo in three years’ time.

She added that construction of Scarborough’s floating production unit was 50% complete as of 30 September, while fabrication of the subsea flowlines and trunkline is already finished. Installation of the nearshore trunkline has begun, while the subsea trees have been delivered and are stored in a warehouse awaiting installation.

Meanwhile, construction of the Pluto Train 2 modules in Batam, Indonesia — this train will handle Scarborough’s gas — and site works in Karratha (Western Australia) are progressing well.

Woodside’s Pluto facility is now fully remotely operated from Perth, and this 100% remotely operated LNG plant enables the future integration of Scarborough.

Scarborough will produce up to 8 million tonnes per annum of LNG — at a cost of supply of $5.8 per million British thermal units delivered to customers in North Asia — plus 225 terajoules per day of gas for the domestic market.

“The world’s demand for Woodside’s products is expected to be resilient in the coming decades as populations and economies grow, with our target markets in Asia driving primary energy demand.

“Growth in demand for LNG in particular is expected to continue as buyers seek to secure supplies to support renewables in the power mix as they decarbonise,” O’Neill said.

“Woodside’s LNG-weighted portfolio is well suited to capitalise on that demand.”

O’Neill hailed the company’s recent sell down of a 10% non-operating interest in Scarborough to LNG Japan as demonstrating the value of the project to its customers.

“Once operational, Scarborough would be among the lowest carbon intensity sources of LNG when delivered into North Asia,” she said.

Reducing emissions

Woodside is working towards decarbonising the Scope 1 and 2 emissions from its Pluto and Scarborough operations. Initiatives at the respective offshore facilities will include waste heat recovery from gas turbines, a flow coated trunkline to reduce roughness and a nitrogen flare purge.

Meanwhile, for Pluto Train 2, Woodside will incorporate selected turbine compressor drivers with inlet air chilling and low NOx technology, and install a thermal oxidiser to remove methane from waste streams.

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