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Australia’s Resource Powerhouse

One of the largest resource infrastructure projects in the world lies off Western Australia’s Pilbara coastal region and it’s one of the reasons Australia has surpassed Qatar as the world’s largest exporter of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG).

The Pilbara is an area most Australians associate with the red glow of iron ore but from the city of Karratha and stretching out into the Indian Ocean, the North West Shelf (NWS) project continues to tap some of the richest gas reserves on the planet.

Costing over $34 billion to develop, it’s Australia’s biggest hydrocarbons project
consisting of a series of onshore and offshore production facilities based on crude oil and gas fields 137km out to sea. 

A maze of oil and gas wells, pipelines, production areas and support facilities, the project employs more than 1000 people and produces over 65 per cent of Western Australia’s domestic gas supply.

It is also a major global producer of LNG, natural gas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), condensate and crude oil, much of which is exported to Japan, China, Spain, South Korea and the US.

North Rankin Complex.
Image Credit: Woodside Energy Ltd

All of this is made possible by a series of world-class facilities pushing the boundaries of science and ingenuity.

Offshore production facilities include the North Rankin complex, Goodwyn A and Angel platforms and the Okha, a floating storage facility capable of stowing 925,000 barrels of oil. North Rankin B - a $5 billion redevelopment built to extend the life of North Rankin fields - is one of the largest offshore platforms in the world.

Standing in waters 125 m deep, North Rankin B weighs a colossal 58,000 tonnes and has a daily production capacity of up to 51,000 tonnes.

Trunk lines connect the four offshore platforms to the mainland and transport oil and gas to onshore facilities at Karratha, about 1500 km north of Perth. The Karratha Gas Plant is one of the world’s most advanced gas production systems, producing LNG, domestic gas, condensate and LPG in huge quantities.

Angel Platform.
Image Credit: Woodside Energy Ltd

The 200ha facility has five LNG processing trains, two domestic gas trains and produces 630 terajoules per day (to put that in perspective,  a Boeing 747 can cross the Atlantic Ocean on one terajoule).

The project also owns a fleet of seven LNG tank ships, the largest of which is the Northwest Swan, which carries enough LNG to power the lights at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for 20 years.

Not only is the NWS Project a world-class oil and gas production facility, it is a huge driver for the Australian economy, both through employment and tax revenue.

The Okha.
Image Credit: Woodside Energy Ltd

Each year, about $900 million is injected by the project back into the Western Australian economy to improve amenities, child care, health and education. Since production began back in 1984, the six partners of the project have paid over $26 billion in taxes and royalties.

For more than thirty years the NWS Project has been one of the world’s largest producers of gas, but it is estimated that by 2023 production will begin to slow as natural gas and oil deposits decline.

Once it can no longer produce its own gas, the North West Shelf will become a processing facility for other gas producers, ensuring its megastructures remain in use.

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