14/05/2009 - 00:00

Pay-off for WA from Darwin gas project

14/05/2009 - 00:00

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PREMIER Colin Barnett has described the loss of the giant Ichthys gas project to Darwin as an embarrassment for Western Australia, yet under recent contracts at least some work is flowing to engineers and other businesses in the west.

Pay-off for WA from Darwin gas project

PREMIER Colin Barnett has described the loss of the giant Ichthys gas project to Darwin as an embarrassment for Western Australia, yet under recent contracts at least some work is flowing to engineers and other businesses in the west.

Project operator Inpex Browse announced last month the awarding of engineering design contracts for the offshore facilities to AMEC Engineering, the local arm of UK company AMEC plc.

AMEC will be supported by sub-contractors Aker Solutions and JP Kenny, which will split the work between offices in the UK, Norway and Perth.

This followed the awarding in January of engineering design contracts for the onshore facilities, including the liquefied natural gas plant in Darwin, to the JKC joint venture.

Inpex spokesman Tim Larcombe said Perth was the hub of a massive global effort to design the offshore and onshore facilities for the project, coordinating activity in London, Oslo, Yokahama, Tokyo and Darwin.

Mr Larcombe said between 200 and 250 people, comprising Inpex, JKC, AMEC, Aker and JP Kenny staff, will be working in Perth on the front-end engineering and design contracts.

In addition to the engineering activity, work being undertaken out of WA during the FEED phase will include coordinating geotechnical and geophysical surveys, IT services and logistics.

Engineering firms see upcoming LNG projects like Ichthys as an opportunity to build Perth's capability in the oil and gas sector.

This would be a reversal of the recent trend for WA LNG projects, which have seen most of the engineering design, especially for the process plant, conducted in London or Houston.

AMEC South East Asia regional director Richard Bailey said the company was "delighted to be executing this world class engineering project from Perth, the scale of the Ichthys field development will bring significant opportunities to the region".

JP Kenny is expected to recruit between 20 and 30 staff in Perth to work on the Ichthys project, in addition to the 260 staff it already has in Perth.

All staff will be located in Perth for the duration of the contract.

Aker vice president Jeanette Roberts described the Ichthys contract as "a breakthrough for our offshore activities into the Australian market".

The Norwegian group has been working to strengthen its oil and gas presence in Australia over the past three years.

Ms Roberts said Aker would have an opportunity to second some of its talented Australian engineers onto the Ichthys team, building local expertise for the future.

Aker's head of international oil and gas operations, Tore Sjursen, told upstreamonline.com the Ichthys work would employ 80 people in London, Oslo and the Norwegian town of Kristiansand.

Aker will work on the hulls for the central processing facility and a floating production, storage and offtake vessel.

The project involves transporting gas from the Ichthys field, off the Kimberley coast, via an 850 kilometre pipeline to an LNG plant in Darwin.

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