Australia's offshore petroleum regulator has released for public comment the Offshore Project Proposal for Santos' large US$2 billion Dorado oil project in Western Australia.

The regulator - Nopsema - said it had determined that the project proposal met its requirements and could be published; public comments are open until 29 October 2021.

Santos will then consider and address any issues raised in the public comments, and then Nopsema will begin its assessment of the proposal’s acceptability.

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If the proposal is accepted by Nopsema, additional regulatory approvals will be required including environment plans, safety cases, and well operations management.

The Dorado proposal consists of an initial phase of oil production, and future nearby tie-backs, with gas reinjected to optimise liquids recovery ahead of a future phase of gas production.

Dorado will be designed for oil handling rates of 100,000 barrels per day and gas reinjection capacity of 235 million cubic feet per day over 20 years.

The development will consist of an offshore wellhead platform with 10 wells initially; a floating production, storage and offloading vessel; and subsea flowlines and umbilicals between the WHP and the FPSO.

Production operations could begin as early as 2025, said Nopsema.

Santos is the operator of the Dorado project; its joint venture partner is Carnarvon Petroleum.

Santos chief executive Kevin Gallagher said on 17 August 2021: "We have also made significant progress on our exciting Dorado project with FEED entry on an integrated oil and gas project taken in June."

"We are targeting FID in mid-2022 on the first phase of liquids production, with FID on a second phase of gas development to backfill our Western Australia domestic gas infrastructure likely to occur in the second half of the decade."

The estimated US$2 billion capital cost of the project is subject to detailed FEED for a build and own FPSO.