Brunei LNG; Source: Mitsubishi Corporation

First LNG project in Western Pacific goes offline as black smoke billows out

An investigation has been launched after black smoke and flaring were seen coming from the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Brunei Darussalam, which is considered to be the first in the Western Pacific.

Brunei LNG; Source: Mitsubishi Corporation

According to the operating company, Brunei LNG Sdn Bhd, Brunei LNG experienced a plant shutdown on 12 June 2023 and its “designated teams are focused to restore normal plant operations safely.” This project is owned by a consortium consisting of the government of Brunei (50 per cent), Shell Overseas Trading Limited (25 per cent), and Mitsubishi Corporation (25 per cent).

While no timeline has been provided for the restart of this project, the operating company explained that a comprehensive restart plan had been developed and executed. Based on the firm’s statement, the potential root causes are still being investigated, however, there are “no hazards to the public from this activity,” even though “black smoke and flaring can be seen and noise can be heard.”

Each year 6.7 million tonnes of liquefied gas are pumped into tankers at the Brunei LNG plant in Lumut. This 130-hectare complex, which was completed in 1972, was designed to service the project’s original 20-year supply commitment. However, it went through two major refurbishments in 1993 and 2004 to extend the plant life.

Brunei LNG has five liquefaction trains, each capable of processing 9700 m³ of gas per day, enabling an annual plant capacity of around 7.2 million tonnes of LNG. This LNG is delivered to customers every two or three days by vessels measuring 147,000m3 – 154,800m3 (managed by Brunei Gas Carriers), over 14-day round trips, including one-day loading in Lumut, six days sailing to Japan, and another day unloading before the six-day return leg.

As natural gas is believed to be Brunei Darussalam’s major revenue earner, more than five million tonnes of LNG is shipped annually to long-term customers in Japan and the Asian region in an operation spanning over 50 years, delivering more than 7,500 cargoes – over 273 million tonnes – of LNG.

Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), which operates four offshore fields – South-West Ampa, Fairley, Gannet, and Egret – mostly supplies natural gas for the plant. The first carbon-neutral LNG cargo for Brunei LNG and Osaka Gas was delivered in July 2021 by Shell at the Senboku LNG terminal in Japan.