Big Lake blow up pulled nearly 3PJ from market

BEACH Energy’s quarterly report noted a 14% drop off in production from the Cooper Basin joint venture it shares with Santos largely thanks to an incident at the Big Lake gas field. 
Big Lake blow up pulled nearly 3PJ from market Big Lake blow up pulled nearly 3PJ from market Big Lake blow up pulled nearly 3PJ from market Big Lake blow up pulled nearly 3PJ from market Big Lake blow up pulled nearly 3PJ from market

Kevin Gallagher at the Moomba facility

Helen Clark


In January a 63 terajoule per day pipeline was subject to a stress related fracture, knocking it out for a week according to comments by operator Santos to Energy News before two more weeks of testing and inspections to confirm pipeline integrity. 
The explostion reportedly left a large crater. 
"The outage wasn't a huge outage," Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher said a week ago at a press conference on the sidelines of his company's annual general meeting. In an unusual move the event was not streamed and press outside Adelaide could not ask questions. 
"We didn't lose a lot of gas production or anything like that from it."
One source speaking to Energy News about the most recent series of events, called the incident that occured in January "massive" and that it was the result of infrequent inspections.
"It'll push back operations [at the Big Lake field] by around nine weeks if not longer."
According to them, the pipeline was heavily corroded. 
Beach today attributed a 1 petajoule fall in sales gas production over the prior quarter. 
"Gas and gas liquids production of 1.3  million barrels of oil equivalent was 14% below the prior quarter, mainly due to unplanned flowline outages which impacted production from the Big Lake and Moomba South fields," Beach said this morning. 
"We did not forecast lower Cooper Basin gas production from Big Lake incident," RBC Capital Markets analyst Gordon Ramsay said in a note this morning after results. 
Its share of the Cooper Basin joint venture with Santos is 33.33%, suggesting Santos' equity share loss would be close to another 2PJ, bringing a total production loss of  just under 3PJ for the quarter. 
When accounting for gas and liquids this is roughly 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent. 
However Beach's numbers also suggest the pipeline was out of action longer than the three weeks noted by the Santos spokesperson given, if running at full bore, it could only have sent a maximum of 5.7 PJ to Moomba over the first quarter of 2023. 
While this represents 3% of total Cooper Basin production it is also the exact same amount the competition watchdog suggested the east coast could still be short this year.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in its March interim gas report the market was far closer supplied for the year compared to its January outlook. 
It found the supply outlook had improved by 27PJ thanks to an increase in production estimates and a reduction in uncontracted gas that could be sent overseas. However that left exactly 3PJ that would need to be supplied by the three LNG exporters in Queensland, which includes Santos' GLNG venture. 
At the beginning of the year it warned of a possible 30PJ shortfall. 
There could be a shortfall in the third quarter of 11PJ but then a fourth quarter surplus of 18PJ. However bringing forward excess supply or using gas swaps could plug this. 
"It's (the outage) not going to make a difference to the east coast gas market," Credit Suisse analyst Saul Kavonic told Energy News.