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First cargo departs Ichthys LNG
The first LNG shipment of the INPEX-operated Ichthys LNG project carried by the world largest Moss-type LNG vessel, K Line-operated 182,000-CM “Pacific Breeze” and to be unloaded at Naoetsu LNG terminal in Niigata, Japan.
Ichthys LNG project's operator INPEX announced that the first shipment of LNG from the project departed Bladin Point, near Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia, following the feedgas production start-up at the end of July.
The shipment carried by KHI-built, the world's largest Moss-type LNG vessel, 182,000-CM “Pacific Breeze” which planned to be unloaded at INPEX-operated Naoetsu LNG terminal in Niigata Prefecture, Japan.
Ichthys LNG was originally slated to commence production by 2016 but faced multiple delays. The project's first shipment of condensate exported earlier this month and first cargo of LPG is expected to be shipped later this year.
Ichthys LNG is scheduled to gradually increase its production volume of LNG, and produce approximately 8.9 MMT/Y of LNG, equivalent to more than 10% of Japan' annual LNG import volume, when it reaches its production plateau as approximately 70% of the LNG produced by the project is scheduled to be supplied to Japanese customer, INPEX said, adding that the projects will also 1.65 MMT/Y of LPG and 100,000 bbl/d of condensate (at peak). “LNG is currently being produced from the first liquefaction train, with the second train expected to start up as well in the coming weeks.”
Ichthys LNG project's shareholders are INPEX (operator, 62.245%), Total (30%) CPC (2.625%), Tokyo Gas (1.575%), Osaka Gas (1.2%), Kansai Electric (1.2%), JERA (0.735%) and Toho Gas (0.42%).
Meanwhile, some market analysts are cautious about how quickly production from the project will rise to full output, pointing to the pressure on the venture to announce its first LNG cargo before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Australia next month ahead of the APEC economic leaders' summit in Port Moresby.
The Australian Financial Review has cited Credit Suisse energy analyst Saul Kavonic as saying that urgency "has likely resulted in a rushed first cargo, placing at risk the subsequent ramp-up of production", similar to what occurred at Chevron's Gorgon LNG project in Western Australia, which saw a gap of several months between its first and second cargoes.
"That said, given upstream has been critical path, the second LNG train is likely to be ready sooner rather than later, so once upstream production flows in earnest the ramp-up of the second LNG train could be rapid," Kavonic added.


On 28 Apr. 2018, INPEX said that it has bought a cargo of LNG to cool their Ichthys LNG project that indicates the project is getting closer to starting output.
The commissioning cargo was loaded in Singapore in late March and delivered by the 182,000-CM Pacific Breeze LNG ship which could also possibly be used for delivering a first export cargo as it is contracted to supply 1.75 MMT/Y of LNG from Ichthys to Taiwan's CPC Corp.
On 17 May 2018, Reuters reported that INPEX expects to ship the first LNG cargo from Ichthys LNG project by the end of September which is planned to be shipped to INPEX-operated Naoetsu LNG terminal in Japan.
Meanwhile, market sources reported that Ichthys project's partners are seeking five LNG cargoes for delivery into Japan [Jera] and Taiwan [CPC] over July to September to replace LNG they will not be able to supply from the project due to delays in its start-up.
On 31 May 2018, INPEX announced that the commissioning of the Ichthys LNG project's Central Processing Facility (Ichthys Explorer) required for production start-up has been completed. “This milestone marks the completion of the necessary commissioning of all key onshore and offshore facilities for production start-up” as the project is scheduled to commence production of gas from the wellhead upon conducting final safety verifications, and will thereafter proceed with the shipment of cargoes by the end of September.
On 10 Jul. 2018, INPEX confirmed that introduction of gas to the Ichthys LNG facility in Australia is likely to be delayed until resolving “deficiencies” uncovered during an inspection being carried out by Australian safety regulator Nopsema who declared that the deficiencies identified relate to the use of unsuitable electrical equipment in hazardous areas.
Nopsema has not determined that how much work needs to be done or how long it will take to ensure the electrical equipment is replaced, leaving open the possibility that INPEX's timeline could be affected as the Japanese operator missed its target to start production from the facility's associated gas field by mid-June.
On 27 Jul. 2018, Total announced that Ichthys LNG project reached a major milestone with the opening of the first offshore production well. At full capacity, the offshore facilities are expected to produce 1,600 MMCF/D of gas and 85,000 bbl/d of condensate.


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Source(s) GLNGI Staff, INPEX, Image courtesy of Total