BHP Billiton selling stake in Minerva plant

Australian energy company Cooper Energy, together with AWE and Mitsui E&P Australia, has signed for the acquisition of BHP Billiton’s 90 percent interest in the Minerva Gas Plant, onshore Otway Basin, Australia.

Cooper Energy said on Tuesday that it would hold a 50% interest in the gas plant and AWE Limited and Mitsui E&P Australia would each hold a 25% interest, after completion of the transaction.

Cooper currently holds a 10% interest in the Minerva Gas Plant.

Ownership of the offshore Minerva gas field and the offshore gas pipeline is unaffected by the plant transaction, with BHP remaining the operator and holding 90% interest while Cooper holds the remaining 10%.

The agreement, which is conditional on completion of regulatory approvals and assignments, provides for the transfer of the plant and associated land after the cessation of current operations processing gas from the Minerva gas field, offshore Victoria.

The Minerva Gas Plant is located approximately 5 km north-west of Port Campbell. The plant, which was commissioned in January 2005, has a gas processing capacity of approximately 150 terajoules per day and hydrocarbon liquids processing facilities.

The plant is connected directly to the SEAGas Port Campbell to Adelaide pipeline and to the South West Pipeline, owned by APA Group.

Cooper managing director, David Maxwell, said: “The Minerva Gas Plant is one of three gas processing plants located onshore Victoria that are currently processing gas from the offshore Otway Basin.

“Our analysis indicates the plant can offer a highly competitive processing option for gas from Casino Henry and other gas fields in the region. Ownership of the plant has clear strategic merit and can significantly further enhance the economics of Otway Basin gas development and production.

“We foresee acquisition of the Minerva plant dovetailing with our exploration and development plans for the offshore Otway Basin. These plans include lifting production through the drilling of a development well on the Henry field and drilling for new gas reserves.”

The Casino Henry joint venture has progressed preliminary engineering design work for processing gas at the Minerva Gas Plant, which will require the construction of a 0.25-kilometre pipeline tie-in together with modification of well control systems to connect the Casino Henry project.

The Casino Henry joint venture is currently contracted to process gas at the Iona gas processing and storage facility until December 2018. Potential benefits accruing from processing at the Minerva Gas Plant include increments to gas reserves and higher production rates enabled by lower plant inlet pressure and reduced processing costs.

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