First natural gas could flow from the Blacktip field in the southern Timor Sea by 2006, according to David Maxwell, director of Woodside Petroleum's Northern Australian gas business unit. A development scenario outlined by Maxwell at the South East Asia Australia Offshore Conference would see Blacktip gas transported mostly overland through a pipeline to Alcan Inc's aluminum smelter at Gove. "We have actively engaged with potential gas customers with the intent of signing gas sales agreements as soon as possible," Maxwell said. "Market commitment by September 2002 can result in first gas within 2006."
Blacktip was discovered in the latter part of 2001 during drilling in the Bonaparte Basin and is located 330 kilometers southwest of Darwin and 110 kilometers from landfall at Wadeye. The field contains around 1 trillion cubic feet of recoverable dry gas, enough to satisfy current Northern Territory gas demand for 15-20 years, Maxwell said. Good prospects for further gas discoveries in the southern Bonaparte (Basin) exist. Blacktip is 85 kilometers from the Petrel/Tern gas fields, which Santos is looking to develop, possibly using shared infrastructure or cooperatively with another project. Maxwell said early engineering studies and initial site surveys support Woodside's confidence in Blacktip's viability.
Woodside has a 35% stake in the Blacktip joint venture, with Shell holding 35% and Agip hold the remaining 30%.