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Exxon unit to push West Barracouta gas field development

Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary Esso Australia Pty. Ltd.Esso Australia Resources Pty. Ltd. will push the development of the West Barracouta gas field in Australia after completing its front-end engineering design work.

The offshore project in the VIC/L1 block will deliver new gas supplies to the Australian market, the oil major said in a Dec. 12 statement. Gas production is targeted to start by 2021, ExxonMobil Production Co. President Neil Duffin said.

The project is part of the Esso-BHP Gippsland basin joint venture, which had already awarded contracts to Subsea 7 and Schlumberger unit OneSubsea.

Esso Australia Pty. Ltd. is the operator of the joint venture and has a 50% stake. BHP Billiton Petroleum (Bass Strait) Pty. Ltd. owns the other 50%.

The project in Bass Strait, which is the first offshore field discovered in Australia, will be tied to the existing Barracouta infrastructure.

The Gippsland basin joint venture supplies about 40% of east coast Australian domestic gas demand. About US$4 billion was already invested in the basin from projects in Victoria, including the Kipper Tuna Turrum offshore project and the Longford Gas conditioning plant.

ExxonMobil Australia Chairman Richard Owen said the first Bass Strait well has produced about 4 billion barrels of crude oil and 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas since 1965.

Esso Australia announced in September that it devised a new systematic approach to maximize gas production including crude and condensate in the Gippsland basin.