Apache Restarting Gas Output as Cyclone Floods Chevron LNG Site

Apache Corp. will start its gas plant at Varanus Island today after production was halted by a tropical cyclone that also flooded the site of Chevron Corp.’s Gorgon project off Western Australia.

Gas supplies from Apache’s plant, about 75 kilometers (47 miles) off the northwest coast, will be progressively restored “over the next few days,” David Parker, a Perth-based spokesman, said by telephone. Jabiru Metals Ltd. shut down its gas power station and concentrator plant after the disruption, the Australian copper and zinc producer said in a statement.

Carlos is a Category 2 cyclone that a week ago struck the city of Darwin more than 1,800 kilometers to the northeast of the Gorgon site on Barrow Island. The storm is over open water and moving away from the coast, the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website. Carlos dropped about 300 millimeters of rain in 24 hours and caused “significant flooding” on the island, Guy Houston, a Chevron spokesman, said in a statement.

“It may take several days for the water in and around the airport to drain,” Perth-based Houston said in an e-mailed statement today. “Regular jet aircraft flights back into Barrow Island may not start until early next week. Smaller aircraft will be used in the interim.”

Most Gorgon construction and oil field workers will start returning to Barrow Island by the weekend, Houston said. Chevron is developing the A$43 billion ($43 billion) liquefied natural gas venture with Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Oil Fields

The Varanus Island plant is Western Australia’s second-largest producer of domestic gas and provides more than 30 percent of supplies. A La Nina weather system may boost the number of tropical storms in Australia, the bureau said this month. The cyclone season typically runs from November to April.

The storage ship Dampier Spirit is reconnecting to Apache’s Stag oil field off Western Australia, while the Ningaloo Vision floating production, storage and offloading vessel will return to the Van Gogh field “later this week,” Parker said today. The projects were closed Feb. 21 because of cyclone Carlos.

Santos Ltd., Australia’s third-largest oil and gas producer, may reconnect the production vessel at the Mutineer-Exeter oil field tomorrow after shutting the operation on Feb. 21 because of Carlos, Tom Baddeley, a Perth-based spokesman, said in e-mailed comments.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, said two fields remain shut because of the impact of storms in the area, while a third is closed for maintenance, according to Francine Tonkin, a Perth-based spokeswoman.

Production from Enfield off the coast from Exmouth was shut in on Feb. 16 in response to Tropical Cyclone Dianne, while output from Cossack Pioneer was halted Feb. 21 because of Carlos, Tonkin said in an e-mailed statement. The Vincent field remains closed because of a planned shutdown for work on a compressor.

Woodside operates the North West Shelf Venture, the biggest source of gas for Western Australia.

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