Pluto LNG plant delivered a record-breaking production performance in Q1 2020, eclipsing the previous year’s record with a 2.6% increase in production.

This impressive result came notwithstanding the worst cyclone to hit the Burrup Peninsula in half a century and the growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pluto asset manager Yvette Manolas attributes the excellent result to the improvements made at the start of the year.

“Teamwork, shared resources and knowledge across all of Woodside’s operational sites contributed to this outcome and highlighted the value of working together as one Burrup Hub to achieve excellence,” Yvette explains.

“It was a result of a lot of hard work and collaboration between Operations and various functions within the business, as well as support from the Karratha Gas Plant (KGP).

“Together, we managed to deliver improvements across safety and productivity, without any compromise on quality or cost.”

Yvette adds the team focused strongly on safety and identification of vulnerabilities and were strongly supported across the business, especially with the cyclone and COVID-19 pandemic response.

“Collaboration across the business must continue if our assets are to achieve world-leading performance,” she notes.

Record production was achieved through implementation of several long-term projects aimed at energy efficiency and minimising environmental impact while also maximising LNG production.

One project was the execution of the dual boil off gas (BOG) compressor operation.

While Woodside aims to minimise flaring, it is essential for the safe operation of a gas plant. During shiploading operations, a portion of the LNG vaporises when it encounters the relatively warm LNG carrier.

Surveillance engineer Jarrod Paler says a newly commissioned operating mode has significantly increased the ability to capture this vapour and direct it to the fuel gas system, or to recover the excess vapour to be processed into LNG.

“Implementing this operating mode was a complex activity, as it required two sets of compressors to operate in parallel stably,” Jarrod explains.

“It also required process changes to the liquefaction, storage and loading and fuel gas systems.

“As an added layer of complexity, the operation of these systems changed depending on whether a ship was being loaded or not, so the new operating mode also had to be robust to these transient conditions,”

Through the work of a multi-disciplinary team including Operations, Engineering, Maintenance and Marketing, along with the support of specialist vendors, this operating mode is expected to result in an average reduction in Pluto’s annual flaring of about 20%, as well as increasing LNG production capacity.

A similar activity also delivered in the first quarter was the first-ever systematic cleaning of Pluto’s production-critical fin fans. These fans are responsible for rejecting most of the heat from the natural gas as it is cooled.

Cleaning away dirt and debris caused by the dry and dusty Pilbara conditions has been proven by similar activity at KGP to improve the efficiency of fans and, by extension, the liquefaction process.

Based on these results, new and innovative cleaning methods are already being planned as this important activity is embedded as part of our routine maintenance strategies.

Mike Price is vice president Pluto, floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) facilities and Wheatstone. Mike says our innovate, collaborate and accelerate approach has safely delivered annual improvements in production and energy efficiency at the Pluto LNG plant.

Read the full Q2 2020 issue of Trunkline here.

Woodside acknowledges Indigenous people's connections to land, water and community. We pay our respects to ancestors and elders - past, present and emerging. We recognise the many contributions Indigenous people make to our business, as community members and employees.