Expansion to start soon

The Waitsia Stage 1 Expansion is set to go ahead at the end of December 2019.

The Xyris Production Facility (XPF) will be shut down and new equipment installed to upgrade the capacity of the facility to 20 TJ/day.

A new pipeline will also be constructed, joining the XPF to the Dampier Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline.

Finally, the Waitsia-02 well, which was drilled in 2015, will be connected to the XPF and start producing gas.

MEPAU Operations Project Manager, Alex Mata, says it’s an exciting time for the company. “After two years of concept designs, front-end designs and all the work involved in bringing a project like this to fruition, it’s really satisfying to see it finally happening,” he says.

Dampier Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline

Whereas the gas being produced by Waitsia Stage 1A currently travels to Perth via the Parmelia Gas Pipeline, future gas will now also be able to be delivered to customers via the Dampier Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline (DBNGP).

Alex Mata says the DBNGP is much bigger than the Parmelia Gas Pipeline, and has more customers.

“All the gas we produce will be sent down the bigger DBNGP and used for domestic consumption right here in Western Australia,” he says.

New equipment for XPF

Alex Mata says they will be installing a new compressor (pictured above) as well as replacing pressure vessels and exchangers to allow the facility to operate at a higher capacity.

He says, “The DBNGP operates at a higher pressure than the Parmelia Pipeline, so we need to compress the gas before we feed it in. Nobody fabricates compressors here in Australia so ours is being made by Compass Energy in Calgary, Canada.”

New pipeline from XPF to DBNGP

The new Waitsia Pipeline will be just under 4 km long. Around two hundred and twenty 18 m lengths will be used to build the pipe, although Alex Mata says they ordered a few extras just in case.

“Each length is covered with a plastic coating to prevent corrosion. If the coating gets damaged during transport, or if one of the ends get banged so they’re no longer easy to fit together, we’ll put that length aside and use another in perfect condition,” he says.

The pipe was made by Mitsui Steel in China. It was recently loaded onto a ship in Shanghai port and is now sailing towards Fremantle, where it’s expected to arrive during the first week in January.

Alex Mata received a text from someone who happened to be at the port when the pipe was being loaded.

“My friend sent me some photos with the message ‘This is your pipe being loaded onto the ship!’”

Loading pipes onto boat in Shanghai

New well connected to XPF

The Waitsia-02 well will be connected to the XPF, which will allow MEPAU to start producing from that well.

Alex Mata says, “The Xyris Production Facility was reopened in 2016 so that we could test the gas reservoir through the Waitsia-01 and Senecio-03 wells. Those wells have been producing around 10 TJ/day* since August 2016. We’ll increase that to 20 TJ/day with this expansion. Once it’s complete we’ll be able to take a look at the Waitsia-02 well to see if it’s as good as the others.”

Commissioning the new equipment

Once construction is complete everything will be tested to make sure it’s working properly.

Alex Mata says the testing is done very slowly, in a controlled manner. “We don’t want to put anything under pressure until we know for sure that everything is working correctly, as designed and constructed,” he says.

“First we test that everything is watertight, all the cables are connected properly, and all the valves open and close correctly. Then we bring in a small amount of gas and put it through the system.

“The process of carefully checking everything takes about six weeks.”

New pipeline being loaded onto ship at port in Shanghai

Six month project

The project is expected to take six months. MEPAU anticipates recommencing gas production in 2020.

Alex Mata says, “We have a 4.5 year contract with Alinta Gas. We plan to deliver our first gas down the DBNGP to Alinta during 2020.”

Reusing existing facilities

Alex Mata says it’s good that MEPAU has been able to reuse an existing facility rather than build a new one. He says, “The Xyris Production Facility was built in 2004 with an expected lifespan of ten years, but we’ve managed to extend the life of that plant to the point where it will probably run for another ten years.”

Local service providers are key

Local and regional service providers are being engaged during the Waitsia Stage 1 Expansion works similarly to the first phase of Waitsia Stage 1A, that was completed in 2016. This includes survey, earthworks & civil construction, electrical, cranage and equipment hire, haulage, cleaning and accommodation services. Alex Mata says that local support has been key component to successful project delivery.

 *One terajoule is enough gas to supply an average home for about 50 years.

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