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Partners set to spud as Waitsia gets rolling

Mitsui and Beach spark up full-field development in Perth basin

Joint venture partners Mitsui and Beach Energy are progressing the US$500 million-plus full-field development of the Waitsia gas field in Western Australia and preparing to spud a significant exploration well.

The Waitsia field, located in the northern Perth basin, is considered to be the largest onshore conventional gas discovery Down Under in 30 years.

The field contains proven and probable gas resources of 811 petajoules of gas (765 billion cubic feet) on a gross basis, according to an independent review by RISC.

The full-field, or stage two, development was suspended last year when Mitsui was in the process of acquiring AWE.

However the project is under way again, with Beach recently saying that front-end engineering and design for Waitsia stage two was complete and engineering, procurement and construction tenders were in progress.

A new gas processing facility is required with production capacity of between 100 terajoules per day (94 million cubic feet per day) to 250 terajoules per day (235 MMcfd) and the drilling and connection of additional wells to deliver conditioned gas into the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline.

Last year there were four groups competing for the main turnkey contract - Quanta with Suez, Atco Australia, SNC-Lavalin and Clough.

However, it could not be confirmed if the same parties are again vying for the prize.

The field has been producing since August 2016 as a pilot scheme, and is aiming to double stage one capacity to 20 terajoules per day.

A spokesperson for operator Mitsui confirmed the stage two project is in the EPC tender process and an award would be made at the time of the final investment decision.

Sources said the construction method is expected to be modular but this would be confirmed during the tender process.

Meanwhile, Mitsui and Beach are preparing to drill a big gas exploration well called Beharra Springs Deep, which will target the same play type found at Waitsia, namely the Kingia and Highcliff sandstone formations.

The well — on licence L11 — is expected to be spudded in the current quarter using the Easternwell 106 rig.

Mitsui and Beach last month cemented their Perth basin positions with a series of transactions that resulted in them having 50:50 interests in Waitsia, the Beharra Springs production licence, exploration permit EP 320 and pipeline licence PL 18, all in the Perth basin.

Beach managing director Matt Kay said: The “Perth basin is a key growth asset in the Beach portfolio.

"This potential is a view shared with Mitsui E&P Australia with whom we have enjoyed a close and aligned relationship since Mitsui acquired AWE in early 2018, and look forward to this continuing over many years.

"Moving to 50:50 ownership is a natural progression in this relationship, which will help ensure both parties remain fully aligned on future activities.”

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