Prelude FLNG; Source: Shell

Shell ready to embark on seabed survey activities at natural gas field

Shell Australia, a subsidiary of oil major Shell, has tucked a green light for its environment plan (EP) under its belt from the country’s offshore regulator for a seabed survey on the Crux natural gas field off the coast of Western Australia.

Prelude FLNG; Source: Shell

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) confirmed the approval of Shell’s environment plan in December 2023, enabling the oil major to undertake the Crux seabed survey within production licenses AC/PL1 and WA-33-PL.

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This seabed survey will encompass a geophysical survey and a geotechnical survey to investigate sub-seabed geological conditions to understand conditions at the proposed pipeline pipelay initiation and the pipeline end manifold (PLEM) locations for the Crux pipeline.

In addition, the aim is also to check geological conditions for proposed pipeline end terminations (PLET) foundations at both the Crux and Prelude ends of the proposed Crux pipeline; identify potential seabed debris and obstructions; identify and map the nature and distribution of seabed surface types along potential pipeline routes; and accurately measure water depth and map seabed topography.

The Crux seabed survey will be carried out in Commonwealth and Ashmore Cartier marine waters, 200 km offshore northwest Australia and 460 km north-northeast of Broome, in 160 m to around 260 m from mean sea level (MSL) water depth. This is expected to take one week.

In a worse-case scenario, the survey could take up to 30 days which accounts for unforeseen circumstances and potentially more survey activities. The survey is currently planned to occur within a single campaign in 2024.

The Shell-operated Crux development, sanctioned in May 2022, is located in Commonwealth waters in the northern Browse Basin, 190 kilometers offshore northwest Australia and 620 km northeast of Broome, in approximately 165 meters of water depth.

The Crux joint venture, which comprises Shell Australia as the operator and SGH Energy as its joint venture partner, is progressing the project. The first environmental approval for Crux was the Crux Offshore Project Proposal (OPP), which was accepted in August 2020 by NOPSEMA.

According to Shell, the Crux gas field has been identified as a source of backfill gas for the existing Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility. As a result, Crux will have the capacity to supply the Prelude FLNG facility with up to 550 million standard cubic feet of gas per day (mmscfd).

The development of this project will consist of a platform operated remotely from Prelude while five wells are expected to be drilled initially. Moreover, an export pipeline will connect the platform to Prelude, around 160 kilometers southwest of Crux. Shell anticipates the first gas in 2027.

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