Inpex Corp. said on July 30 it has begun producing gas at its giant Ichthys field offshore northern Australia, putting it a big step closer toward shipping its first LNG cargo from the long-delayed $40 billion project.
Startup of gas production is a major milestone for the project, Japan’s biggest overseas investment and first major energy development to be operated by the country’s top oil and gas producer.
Inpex said it now expects to start exporting products by the end of September, with condensate to be shipped first, then LNG and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), nearly two years later than its initial target.
“The project expects to begin the shipment of products towards the end of the first half of the current fiscal year,” Inpex said in a statement. The first half ends in September.
The project is expected to take two or three years to reach its full capacity of 8.9 million tonnes of LNG a year, along with about 1.7 million tonnes of LPG and about 100,000 barrels per day of condensate, an ultra-light form of crude oil.
Inpex said it was reviewing expected revenue contributions from the Ichthys project for the year to March 2019, taking into account the oil price outlook and other factors, and would inform the market if its forecasts are revised.
Inpex owns just over 62% of Ichthys LNG, with France’s Total SA holding 30%. The remainder is owned by Taiwan’s CPC Corp. and Japanese utilities.
U.S. crude oil production rose 231,000 barrels per day (bbl/d), or 2%, to a record 10.674 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) in June, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a pair of monthly reports on Aug. 31.
The company expects to take about two years to reach full-scale production through a gradual increase in utilization rates by conducting various tests, said Masahiro Murayama, Inpex’s senior managing executive officer.
China’s increased appetite for energy helped Australian LNG revenue grow 38% over the last year, according a recent report.