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Chevron plans to expand Wheatstone LNG plant output

US energy firm Chevron Corp has proposed expanding the production capacity of its planned Wheatstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Western Australia by about 67.

The proposal to expand output to a 25 million tons per annum (mtpa) comes amid a forecast surge in global LNG demand to 400 mtpa by 2020 from 170 mtpa last year, as the world seeks cleaner source of fuel amid environmental concerns.

The planned Wheatstone plant was first announced in March as a 5 mtpa facility. In July Chevron said it was planning to raise capacity to 15 mtpa after it found more gas at its Iago gas field adjacent to the Wheatstone gas field which will provide gas for the plant.

Chevron said in the report that it would take a number of years to develop the Wheatstone plant to the 25 mtpa capacity, but did not give a specific timeframe.

A Chevron spokeswoman declined to comment on the estimated cost of the plant and whether the firm has lined up any other parties to supply gas.

Australia's environment department did not make any comment on the expansion plan on its Website.

If expanded to 25 mtpa, the Wheatstone plant would be larger than the North West Shelf LNG project, operated by Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd Woodside, and the Chevron's own, proposed 15 mtpa Gorgon LNG project, which is currently Australia's biggest planned resources project.

Chevron has selected three potential sites for the Wheatstone plant: Ashburton North, Onslow or Cape Preston on the Pilbara coast of western Australia. Chevron said the sites were selected because of their proximity to major towns.

Chevron is also planning to build a plant near the Wheatstone LNG facility to supply gas to Australian domestic and commercial users that would produce 250 million cubic feet of gas a day. (Reuters)