Petronas will permanently shut in part of its Sabah Sarawak Gas Pipeline (SSGP) that delivers feed gas to its Petronas LNG Complex after a catalogue of incidents that culminated in declaring force majeure at Malaysia LNG Dua — one of the four liquefaction projects at the complex.

The force majeure was declared in September after the most recent pipeline leak, which is understood to have been caused by subsidence issues on a section of SSGP denominated as KP201.

Petronas chief executive Tengku Muhammad Taufik on Wednesday told reporters that there were no current plans to reroute the pipeline to bypass the affected section.

“There’s a full evaluation on the options to us to either leave it in situ, with a number of de-energising and removal of hydrocarbon measures; or we take more reparatory measures of partial removal or hybrid solutions,” Taufik was quoted as saying by Malaysian business publication The Edge.

The SSGP is part of Petronas’ Sabah-Sarawak integrated oil and gas project. The 512-kilometre, 36-inch diameter pipeline has a capacity of 750 million cubic feet per day of gas and links gas fields in Sabah to the MLNG export complex at Bintulu.

“The pipeline passes through challenging, mountainous jungle terrain,” consultant Wood Mackenzie has noted.

The decision to shut in part of the pipeline near Lawas was taken after an in-depth review that included evaluation of the geohazards and soil movement. The remainder of the pipeline will continue to serve customers in Sabah although it is not expected that feed gas will flow again to MLNG Dua any time soon, if ever.

“[On] rerouting the pipeline, we have weighed [this]… against bringing on alternative supply and, in fact, it was probably safer, quicker and more reliably deliverable that we go down a direct supply to MLNG Dua,” Taufik added.

He noted that Shell’s Timi field, in which Petronas Carigali has an interest, flowed first gas this week and — looking ahead — fields such as Jerun and Kasawari that are under development will also provide feedstock to MLNG Dua.

Petronas did not immediately respond to a request for independent comment as 31 August is a public holiday for Malaysia’s National Day; but Upstream will update the copy with comment from the Malaysian company when it is received.

Despite the woes at the SSGP and Petronas declaring force majeure, the operator has been able to meet its contractual obligations, Taufik confirmed.

In the first half of 2023, Petronas delivered 200 cargoes from the Petronas LNG Complex in Bintulu, Sarawak, and 19 cargoes from its floating liquefaction facilities PFLNG Satu (one) and PFLNG Dua (two) deployed offshore Sabah, Malaysia, to customers across the globe.

The SSGP was completed in 2014 but within months there had been reported incidences of soil movement and there have been subsequent fires and leaks.

Last November, one man was killed and two others injured in an explosion and fire near KP 132 on the pipeline in Long Ugui, Lawas.

However, Petronas at the time said that this incident is believed to have involved a third-party contractor performing work “unrelated to SSGP operations nearby the pipeline’s right of way area”.

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