Leaseholders of the Scarborough Gas Fields have applied to renew their control over the massive reserve, in an attempt to outrun the “use it or lose it” policies of the Coalition Government.
The WA-1-R retention lease held by Exxonmobil and BHP Billiton over the 1979 discovery will expire in May of this year.
Development of the eight trillion cubic foot gas reserve has long been delayed due to a lack of hydrocarbon liquids and the 300km distance from gas processing plants at Karratha.
BHP had also taken until September 2014 to agree Exxonmobil’s proposal to develop the project using a floating LNG (FLNG) plant.
Plunging global oil and gas prices make any large scale hydrocarbon project development unlikely in the near future, but Exxonmobil and BHP have neared the end of a five year period of technical studies, during which completion of concept selection was necessary to retain the lease.
An Exxonmobil spokeswoman told The West Australian that the JV partners had applied for renewal of the retention lease, and that the companies were commited to “advancing Scarborough towards a final investment decision”.
Development of Scarborough has been challenged by water depth, ocean conditions and resource characteristics, she said.