Wheatstone LNG Plant at Ashburton North, Western Australia; Source: Chevron

Chevron eyes drilling ops offshore Australia to look for more gas

Chevron Australia, a subsidiary of the U.S.-headquartered energy giant Chevron, has submitted an environment plan (EP) to the country’s offshore regulator for exploration drilling to search and evaluate deep gas reservoirs within a license off the coast of Australia.

Wheatstone LNG Plant at Ashburton North, Western Australia; Source: Chevron

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has confirmed that Chevron recently submitted an environment plan to conduct exploration drilling in production license WA-47-L within the Northern Carnarvon Basin off the northwest coast of Western Australia between 2024 and 2025.

Located in Commonwealth waters, around 175 km northwest of Dampier Port and about 65 km north-northwest of the Montebello Islands, the proposed Wheatstone Deep-1 exploration well will target a gas reservoir. The scope of the environment plan covers drilling, formation evaluation, and well abandonment.

Based on Chevron’s EP, the exploration drilling activities will be undertaken by a semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) while vessels will be used for various support functions. In line with this, a 500-meter safety exclusion zone will be requested around the MODU for the duration of the activity.

Furthermore, the formation evaluation includes standard data acquisition methods. Once the exploration drilling activities are complete, the Wheatstone Deep-1 well will be permanently plugged and abandoned, and any elements, such as a wellhead, above the mudline will be removed.

While Chevron’s drilling activity is estimated to take approximately 50 days to complete, it is subject to potential operational delays, including those caused by weather conditions. These activities may be conducted 24 hours a day and seven days per week.

The oil major’s environment plan documents the assessment and management of potential environmental impacts and risks associated with the Wheatstone Deep-1 exploration drilling activities in Commonwealth waters.

The Wheatstone project is one of Australia’s largest resource developments and its first LNG hub. The project consists of two LNG trains with a combined capacity of 8.9 mtpa and a domestic gas plant. The first shipment of LNG took place in October 2017.

Operated by Chevron on behalf of the Wheatstone joint venture, Wheatstone LNG processes gas from the offshore Wheatstone, Iago, Julimar, and Brunello gas fields, 220 km from Onslow, Western Australia. The company is actively pursuing decarbonization.

To this end, the U.S. oil major joined forces with Japan’s JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation to evaluate the export of carbon dioxide (CO₂) from Japan to carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in Australia and other countries in the Asia Pacific region.