Stepping on the gas at Wheatstone

​​​​​​​​​​​The first cargo of gas has been delivered and Woodside, with operator Chevron, is entering a new phase as the focus shifts from start-up to operations.

“This is a new experience for Woodside,” says Rob Mackinnon, general manager Wheatstone. “Going forward, the focus is on transitioning from start-up into operations. And because we’re not the operator of the project, this situation is totally new for Woodside. “We have the capability to provide support to the operator in different areas, in both maintenance and operations. So our role is about sharing with Chevron what we have learned as an LNG operator to help optimise the reliability of the plant and production.” 

First LNG production occurred on 9 October, with the maiden shipment leaving from Onslow on 31 October on the Asia Venture, one of Chevron’s new LNG carriers, to Japan.  For Woodside, the occasion represented a big stride along the path to increasing production volumes as Wheatstone transitions from a “cash-out” project to a “cash-in” operation. Paul Baker, says it was an historic day for Woodside, not least our 26 seconded staff who have been working with Chevron to achieve a safe start-up. “It’s really hard work to get a greenfields facility started up and our team did some great work with Chevron and Bechtel, and in doing so start the journey to becoming a reliable and lower cost LNG supplier,” says Paul, who led our team as vice president Wheatstone.

With the successful start-up completed, and the project entering a new phase, Paul has stepped into a new position and Rob Mackinnon now leads our Wheatstone team. Rob has recently returned from a secondment to Wheatstone where he was the commissioning manager for its LNG Train 1 facilities. “We’ve worked through the usual technical issues seen during early commissioning with a clear focus on flawless start-up and ultimately operational reliability,” he says. “We all feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to provide support to Wheatstone and very proud of what has been achieved.

”He says the Woodside secondees did an excellent job in adding value and developing a strong working relationship with both Chevron and contractors, adding that he sees one of his main tasks as building on the strong ties with Chevron that Paul has developed. “We want to enhance and improve those ties,” Rob says.

He notes that Woodside also has to ensure it has a sound strategy for dealing with operations of an operating asset (Julimar/Brunello) as well as being non-operator for the Wheatstone facilities. The number of Woodside secondees has decreased slightly, but most will stay on at Onslow to support the start-up of Wheatstone’s Train 2, due to come on stream in Q3 2018. 

Paul notes that Wheatstone has an integral role to play in implementing the company’s strategy, particularly Horizon 1 (from 2017 to 2021). 
At full production, Wheatstone is expected to produce for Woodside more than 13MMboe (million barrels of oil equivalent) annually and the revenue generated will support the funding of medium-term investment in Horizon 2 (2022 to 2026) projects such as Browse, Myanmar and Scarborough, as well as improving our bottom line.

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Trunkline Q4 2017​​​​