The expansion, in Western Australia’s far north-west, is part of energy and minerals projects worth $A45 billion which are currently underway in the state.
But the number of projects is also placing a strain on the availability of skilled and professional workers.
Adding the 4.2 million tonnes-a-year Phase 5 train at Karratha will increase production capacity 25% to about 16 million tonnes, making the facility one of the largest in south-east Asia and adding $A1 billion to Western Australia’s yearly exports.
The project is operated by Woodside Energy on behalf of BP, BHP Billiton, Shell Australia, Chevron Australia and MIMI.
The engineering, procurement and construction management contract for the expansion was awarded in March to a Western Australian joint venture of Foster Wheeler WA Pty Ltd and WorleyParsons Services Pty.
Components of Phase 5 include the processing train, an acid gas removal unit with a single absorber, jetty spur and second loading berth, turning basin and approach channel, and two power generators.
A demineralisation water tank, boil-off gas compressor and a fuel gas compressor will also be built.
Site work starts next month with the project expected to take about three years to complete after the construction workforce peaks at 1500 workers in mid-2007.
Commissioning is due about mid-2008 with first LNG cargoes planned for later that year.
Woodside’s director of North West Shelf ventures, Jack Hamilton, said the expansion would bring significant economic and social benefits to the Pilbara region, Western Australia and Australia.
“This latest investment follows last year’s commissioning of a fourth LNG processing train and second trunk line and, combined, these major projects will have enabled the venture to effectively double its LNG capacity in approximately four years.”
Hamilton said the fifth train investment was underpinned by long-term customer relationships and contracts with Japan, China, Korea and the United States, and would allow the venture to secure new contracts.
Australian industry would be given the opportunity to be part of the project through an Australian industry participation plan.
“It will also allow local suppliers to bid for lower-tier supply chain opportunities,” Hamilton said.
Development in the north-west is likely to continue apace for years to come. A future sixth NWS train, based on Woodside's Pluto discovery and Chevron's Wheatstone, has also been mooted, and Woodside has said it is keen to develop a major LNG hub in the Browse Basin.
North West Shelf: Woodside Energy Ltd 16.67% (operator), BHP Billiton Petroleum 16.67%, BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd 16.67%. Chevron Australia Pty Ltd 16.67%, Japan Australia LNG (MIMI) Pty Ltd 16.67%, and Shell Development (Australia) 16.67%.