Upstream problems hit output at Angola LNG

LNG29 October 2013, News Wires -Upstream problems including a deadly offshore rig accident have cut into Angola LNG’s designed production capacity as the project’s operators have had to turn to other blocks for gas sourcing, according to a report.
The $10 billion project, which sent off its first liquefied natural gas cargoes in June, is currently producing at just 20% of its maximum capacity, said Paulo Fernandes, an executive at state-run Sonangol’s production department.

“We had some problems at the plant’s launch stage, but these were resolved and now we’re in the phase of commissioning and will progressively get the 100% goal,” Reuters quoted him as saying on Tuesday.

Fernandes added that the 5.2 million tonnes per annum facility would “probably” be producing at full capacity by the end of next year.

US supermajor Chevron operates Angola LNG with a 36.4% stake, while Sonangol owns 22.8%. Total, BP and Eni are also partners, each on 13.6%.

The project has been dogged by 18 months of delays caused by technical problems and other issues.

In July, the Saipem jack-up Perro Negro 6 capsized and sank after an apparent punch-through during a rig-positioning operation. At least one worker was killed.

The incident delayed efforts to link Chevron’s Block 0 and 14 with the plant, Fernandes said. The plant needs at least 1 billion cubic feet per day of gas to operate at full capacity; five offshore blocks have been mandated to supply the facility.

Blocks 0 and 14 were initially due to supply up to 170 MMcfpd to the plant and were scheduled to be hooked up to the facility next year.

“The accident was at a platform that was going to make the transport links from one of the operators,” Reuters quoted Fernandes as saying. “It will delay the delivery of gas from one of the operators, but it won’t compromise the Angola LNG project entirely as we have other projects for links.”

Total’s Block 17 is the primary supplier to Angola LNG. BP’s Block 31 is now also supplying some of the gas due to a loss of delivery from other fields, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, the plant has not yet fully shutdown for a 53-day maintenance programme that has been delayed several times, most recently because of small gas leaks discovered on an onshore pipeline.

Reports said that maintenance was supposed to begin at the end of December, but Fernandes said “one part of the maintenance has not started yet”.

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