Western Australia is heading for more liquefied natural gas use in trucking, shipping and among mining operations after energy company Woodside Petroleum opened a truck-loading facility at its Pluto LNG export plant.
The state Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan, officially opened the facility at a ceremony at the coastal town of Karratha, near the Dampier LNG export terminal.
The medium-term aim for the shipping sector is to supply LNG fuel to heavy iron ore carriers sailing from Western Australia to Asia.
However, Woodside’s initial focus is on supplying trucked LNG to mining operations and communities in the Pilbara, Kimberley and other regions of the state for power generation and as reliable, flexible and cost-competitive fuel.
The trucked LNG will also be used to supply coastal shipping with gas-fuel capability, including the LNG-powered offshore support vessel “Siem Thiima” which joined Woodside’s fleet in 2017.
Woodside said that after full commissioning the facility would initially be able to deliver seven LNG truck loadings per day, each one transporting the equivalent of more than 80,000 litres of diesel.
“At this initial capacity, replacing that diesel with LNG could reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions by more than 120,000 tonnes per year,” said Woodside.
The truck-loading bay’s capacity can be doubled by moving to 24-hour operations and can be further expanded if needed to meet future market demand.
“In the longer term, the availability of LNG from the truck-loading facility could support the transition towards cleaner fuel for trucks and trains in the region’s heavy transport sector,” explained the company.
“Woodside is also planning to develop infrastructure for supplying LNG to the international shipping industry, particularly iron-ore carriers on the busy trade route from the Pilbara to Asia,” said Woodside Chief Operations Officer Meg O’Neill.
She added that the Pilbara region was an ideal hub for an LNG fuels market, with established LNG processing facilities located close to large-scale mining operations and port infrastructure.
“The Pluto LNG Truck Loading Facility is a further demonstration of our commitment to supplying domestic gas, and highlights Woodside’s drive to find new markets for our cleaner LNG,” said O’Neill.
“Around three billion litres of diesel are imported into the Pilbara every year, mainly for the mining industry. In addition, the ships exporting iron ore to international markets from the Pilbara consume approximately five billion litres of heavy fuel oil annually,” she explained.
“Woodside believes that LNG produced here in Western Australia can replace those higher-emissions fuels, delivering environmental benefits while supporting the growth of local industries and creating new markets for locally produced LNG,” stated the Woodside executive.
At the Karratha ceremony, Woodside also thanked its joint venture partners at Pluto LNG, the Japanese utilities Kansai Electric and Tokyo Gas and the downstream joint venture partner EDL Energy, as well as trucking partner Linfox and foundation customer Sheffield Resources.