Longford replacement starts rolling

One of the oldest pipelines in Victoria is nearing the end of its operational life, and plans are well advanced for the construction of a replacement pipeline to ensure supply continues uninterrupted.

The 187 km, 700 mm diameter Longford to Long Island Point oil pipeline, operated by ExxonMobil Australia subsidiary, Esso Australia Resources, is set to be replaced to transport crude oil and condensate between its Longford and Long Island Point facilities in Victoria.

The replacement project has received full project funding from Esso and its Gippsland Basin Joint Venture partner, BHP Billiton, who each have a 50 per cent interest in the project with Esso acting as the operator.

The replacement pipeline is still pending regulatory approval, however, the construction is expected to begin in late 2015.

Project background

The Longford gas processing and crude oil stabilisation plants are Esso’s onshore receiving point for oil and gas output from the Bass Strait, supplying most of Victoria’s gas requirements for more than 40 years.

The original pipeline – which was built in 1969 and underwent a partial replacement in 1980 – is approaching the end of its operational life.

It transports crude oil and condensate from Longford to Esso’s Long Island Point plant where the final stage of gas processing (ethane, propane and butane) is carried out, as well storing crude oil prior to distributions to refineries around Australian and overseas.

The Bass Strait is one of Australia’s largest oil and gas producing regions, with some of the gas from the strait shipped off to Asia via the new LNG facilities on Curtis Island in Queensland.

Australia’s first offshore well was drilled in the Bass Strait by an Esso and BHP Billiton Joint Venture in 1965, which led to the discovery of the Barracouta gas field.

This discovery, along with others in the region, led to significant changes in Australia’s industry and economy.

Massive infrastructure costing billions of dollars has been built to develop, produce and process the crude oil and gas, which is used to power industry, fuel vehicles, heat homes and manufacture products in Australia and overseas.

There are now 23 offshore platforms and installations in Bass Strait, including the new Marlin B platform and Kipper subsea wells, which feed a network of 600 km of underwater pipelines and keep the oil and gas flowing, 24 hours a day.

Also falling under Esso’s operations in the Bass Strait is the Kipper Tuna Turrum Project, which is the largest domestic gas development on the eastern seaboard and holds enough energy to supply a city of 1 million people for 35 years.

Start-up for the $4.5 billion project began in 2013 with the Tuna and Turrum fields starting production in June 2013 and October 2013 respectively.

Kipper production is expected to come online in 2016, following the instillation of mercury removal facilities at Longford.

Out with the old

The existing pipeline will continue to operate until the replacement pipeline has been constructed and is ready for operation.

After completion of construction work, to reduce the need to disrupt landowners, occupiers and the broader community, Esso will clean and leave the existing pipeline in-situ, in accordance with the existing pipeline licence, AS 2885 and the Victorian Pipelines Act 2005.

In with the new

Not only allowing the continued delivery of crude condensate, the new pipeline is required so that natural gas from Esso’s offshore operations in the Gippsland Basin, continues to flow to Australian households and businesses.

Expected to be 350 mm in diameter, reduced from its existing 700 mm diameter due to a reduced volume of crude oil and condensate from Gippsland operations, the replacement pipeline will be constructed adjacent to the existing pipeline between Longford and Long Island Point within existing easements held by Esso.

These easements are set aside for crude oil and condensate and LPG pipelines, which minimises the need to acquire or disturb additional land.

However, land liaison officers will be in regular contact with affected land owners to discuss the project’s potential impact on their land and activities.

Regional development

ExxonMobil Australia Chairman Richard Owen said the pipeline presents an opportunity to further develop a region which has been strong energy producer for the company for decades.

“With an approximate cost of $400 million, the replacement pipeline represents another significant investment in the continuation of our Gippsland operations, which have provided crude, condensate, LPG, and natural gas to the Australian market since operations began in 1969,” Mr Owen told The Australian Pipeliner.

Mr Owen said it is anticipated that, at its peak, the project will provide up to 500 jobs, as well generating additional indirect employment opportunities.

“Development of Gippsland’s oil and gas has historically brought the region significant long-term benefits, boosting economic growth and creating new jobs.

“Our commitment to the continued safe, reliable supply of cost-effective energy is demonstrated through this key infrastructure investment and our continuous pursuit of opportunites to reduce cost and improve productivity.”

You can find out more about the Esso Australia Longford to Long Island Point Pipeline Replacement Project here www.exxonmobil.com.au

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