Chevron discovered the Wheatstone gas field in 2004. With resources estimated at 4.5 Tcf of natural gas, Chevron announced plans to develop the Wheatstone LNG plant on the northwestern coast of Australia in 2008 to produce gas from the Wheatstone field. Three potential sites for the Wheatstone plant include Ashburton North, Onslow, or Cape Preston on Western Australia's Pilbara coast.
The initial design for Wheatstone LNG capacity called for at least one 5-mtpa LNG train. In July 2008, Chevron announced plans to raise capacity to 15 mtpa in three trains after discovering more gas at the Iago gas field adjacent to the Wheatstone gas field. Two months later, government documents cited in media reports stated that Chevron had proposed expanding the capacity again--this time to 25 mtpa. At 25 mtpa, Wheatstone would be larger than two other major LNG projects in Australia: North West Shelf LNG and Gorgon LNG.
The Wheatstone facility will not only commercialize the Wheatstone field, but also be used to produce hydrocarbons from other fields in Northwest Australia. "Prospective natural gas development opportunities include additional LNG, domestic natural gas and gas-to-liquids," said Roy Krzywosinski, managing director of Chevron Australia, the company's Australian subsidiary.
In July 2008, Chevron announced that its Iago field was significantly larger than originally thought. Located relatively close to the Wheatstone gas field, Chevron recognized the potential for developing the field through the Wheatstone facility, but it has not announced a definitive for the field.
"The recent success with Iago-2, its relatively shallow water location and proximity to the nearby Wheatstone gas resource, will offer some exciting future development options for Iago," stated Krzywosinski.
In a statement to Australian regulators, Chevron stated on July 26, 2010, that it plans to pursue the maximum 25 million t/y capacity for Wheatstone. This capacity would be larger than that of Gorgon LNG.
On Oct. 11, 2010, Apache Corp. announced that its Apache Julimar Pty Ltd subsidiary KUFPEC Australia (Julimar) Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Co.) will develop facilities to supply gas from their Julimar and Brunello discoveries to Wheatstone.
Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, Wheatstone's operator, in December 2009 signed a Heads of Agreement with Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to deliver 3.1 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG from Wheatstone for 20 years. Apache and KUFPEC will provide roughly one-quarter of the LNG.