Chevron to close Gorgon LNG trains in stages

Chevron will be shutting down the first and the third train at its Gorgon LNG plant in stages following an approval by Western Australia’s regulator.

The Australian unit of the US energy giant will shut the first train in early October followed by the third unit in January next year for equipment inspections, according to a statement by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

With this, the regulator has amended its previous remediation notice that required Chevron to inspect heat exchangers on the two trains by August 21.

“Chevron has presented the department with comprehensive safety and technical information that supports an accelerated but staged inspection schedule combined with a range of other controls,” the regulator said.

To remind, Chevron shut down the second unit at its 15.6 mtpa LNG facility on Barrow Island in Western Australia on May 23 as part of planned maintenance.

But the train is still closed as Chevron found “weld quality issues” within the propane-fueled heat exchangers and plans to restart the unit early September.

The news about the condition of the heat exchanges have been hitting the local media headlines for weeks now with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union calling on Chevron to shut down the plant due to safety concerns.

Closure to last “around 45-90 days”

Chevron still aims to restart the second Gorgon unit in September as works progress.

“Following the planned restart of Train 2 in September, Chevron plans to temporarily halt Train 1 production to inspect and, if necessary, undertake repairs to its propane heat exchangers,” Chevron spokesperson said in a separate statement.

The spokesperson also said that the combined outcomes from the first two trains would determine the activity and timing on third unit.

“Based on our experience on Train 2, inspection, repair and restart on Train 1 could be around 45-90 days,” he said.

The Gorgon development is one of the world’s largest natural gas projects with a price tag of about $54 billion.

The LNG project sources gas from two offshore fields – Gorgon and Jansz-Io.

The first LNG cargo departed Barrow Island in March 2016 followed by gas supply to the domestic market in December.

Chevron’s Australian unit operates the project with a 47.3% share while ExxonMobil and Shell have a 25% stake, each.

Japan’s Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas, and JERA own the remaining stakes in Gorgon.

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