Australian energy giant Woodside has softened its stance on the Sunrise offshore gas field being developed into a liquefied natural gas facility in Timor-Leste, and outlined a number of other growth projects it will be pursuing.

At Sunrise, Woodside has long maintained that it was not economically viable to build an offshore pipeline across the Timor Trench and a new onshore LNG facility in Timor-Leste.

Woodside’s position has been that it would be an upstream investor in Sunrise but not a midstream or LNG investor.

At the company’s Investor Day on 1 December, chief executive Meg O’Neill said it was now “appropriate to reopen the concept evaluation” on the Timor-Leste option.

“The Timorese are very keen to have that development in country and we recognise it is an important national project for them.”

She said the company’s pipeline feasibility studies of going across the trench had always shown it was technically possible, but “the challenge has always been the economics”.

As far as the onshore LNG facility in Timor-Leste was concerned, she pointed to modular construction as an example of a different approach.

“The Commonwealth LNG project that we’ve signed offtake agreements with is one that’s using a modular construction and very different designs.”

O’Neill also spoke of the advantages of piping Sunrise gas to Darwin, which has two existing LNG facilities with nearly all the necessary infrastructure already in place.

She implied that Timor-Leste could partner up with other investors to achieve its goal of having an LNG facility.

“Timor-Leste has a lot of international friends. International friends may want to help with some of that infrastructure that doesn’t exist today in Timor that would exist if we went to Darwin.”

Despite the mixed messages, Sunrise is high on Woodside’s list of growth projects given its close proximity to Asian LNG customers.

“The current focus is on agreeing the terms of the production sharing contract between the two countries and the joint venture, and selecting the development concept,” Woodside added.

Sunrise has a gross contingent resource of 5.3 trillion cubic feet of dry gas and 226 million barrels of condensate.

The project co-owners are the operator Woodside on 33.44%, Timor-Leste national oil company Timor GAP on 56.56% and Osaka Gas on 10%.

Other growth prospects

At the Investor Day, Woodside outlined several other major oil, gas, LNG and new energy opportunities that are being taken through the development gates at the same time as it executes the Scarborough/Pluto 2 and Sangomar projects.

The large Trion oil deep-water project offshore Mexico is first off the conveyor belt. Woodside is targeting a final investment decision in 2023, and said it is currently focused on securing major contractors in the first half next year and a post-final investment decision regulatory requirement.

Trion was “a significant discovered oil resource that has a fast payback period. We have built a strong relationship with our joint venture partner Pemex”, the Australian operator said, adding that the Trion subsea infrastructure was designed to allow tie-backs and in-field opportunities and also included a gas export link to existing infrastructure in Mexico.

In the US Gulf of Mexico and Australia, growth would come from future subsea tie-back opportunities to existing production fields.

LNG growth post Scarborough would come from Sunrise and the giant Browse project, which will include a carbon capture and storage (CCS) solution from the outset.

Conceptual: the Trion project, Mexico Photo: Image WOODSIDE ENERGY

“Most of the previous iterations of Browse had developments where we would be venting the [carbon dioxide] that comes out of the reservoir. We recognise in today’s world to confront climate change and take action; we can’t do that,” O’Neill said.

“Our base case will now incorporate CCS from the beginning.”

Another growth project is Calypso, a series of discoveries in the deep water of Trinidad & Tobago.

To date, the company has discovered more than 3.2 Tcf of gross best estimate contingent resource “in a country with a great market outlook”, Woodside’s executive vice president for exploration and development Andy Drummond said.

“First, there are LNG trains with ullage. Second, there is a petrochemicals industry that relies on gas as a feedstock and third, there is a domestic gas market.”

The field sits about 250 kilometres from the southeast coastline in Trinidad & Tobago.

New Energy

Another major project for Woodside is the H2OK hydrogen scheme in Oklahoma, US, where the company said it secured electrolysers in October and expects to finalise FEED this month in preparation for being ready for a final investment decision in 2023.

The proposed initial phase of H2OK is targeting up to 60 tonnes per day of liquid hydrogen, a large portion of which is produced by wind power. It is ideally located for the US truck market

Other hydrogen opportunities include H2Perth, H2TAS and Southern Green Hydrogen in New Zealand.

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