Esso, BHP Billiton, Woodside and Santos have resolved access arrangements for the processing of the gas and liquids from the Kipper field through Esso and BHPB infrastructure and processing facilities.
Non-binding memoranda of understanding have now been signed between the partners to unitise the Kipper field, provide operating services, and to organise transportation and processing of the gas and liquids.
The field’s proven plus probable reserves comprise about 620 billion cubic feet of recoverable gas and 30 million barrels of condensate and LPG.
Following unitisation, the interests in Kipper field will be: Esso Australia Resources Pty Ltd (operator) 32.5%, BHP Billiton Pty Ltd 32.5%, Woodside Energy Ltd 21% and Santos Group subsidiaries 14%.
Previously BHPB and Esso had owned a collective 50% of the field - now they control 65%. Woodside's stake has reduced from 30% to 21%, while Santos' has gone down from 20% to 14%.
This shift in equity was part of the agreement for Kipper to be developed using Esso/BHP's existing Bass Strait infrastructure and processing facilities.
Front-end engineering and design was expected to start in the first half of 2006 and Esso Australia would also start all relevant approvals on behalf of the project, said ExxonMobil Australia chairman Mark Nolan.
"Signature of the MOU marks the culmination of extensive examination of the best development plan for Kipper, after a seismic survey in 1999 and an appraisal well drilled in 2002,” Nolan said.
"The project has the potential to be one of the largest gas developments to come onstream in Victoria in the medium term and will underpin growth in Gippsland gas sales.”
Meanwhile, Santos said Kipper would add to the company’s growing Victorian gas operations.
“Santos now has interests in four offshore south-eastern Australian projects – Casino and Minerva offshore western Victoria and Patricia-Baleen and Kipper offshore eastern Victoria,” managing director John Ellice-Flint said.
The Kipper field is in 100 metres of water, about 45 kilometres from Ninety Mile Beach on the Gippsland coast.