Chevron Corp. disclosed this week that both of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Australia are producing above their nameplate capacity.

The San Ramon, CA-based supermajor has increased the initial capacity of the three-train Gorgon development by 5%, while the capacity at the two-train Wheatstone project has grown to 9% above nameplate.

Upstream chief Jay Johnson discussed the project on Tuesday during the annual investor day.

“The incremental 5% is pretty valuable for us,” Johnson said of Gorgon. “The reliability of Gorgon has been steadily increasing, and we’re actually quite pleased with it.”

Chevron, which operates Gorgon with a 47.3% stake, temporarily took the first two trains offline last year for repairs after welding cracks were discovered. Repairs were completed, and inspections for the third train are scheduled to take place between April and June, with repairs to follow if necessary.

Combined capacity of the Gorgon trains before the capacity bump was 15.6 million metric tons/year (mmty), while Wheatstone’s full nameplate capacity was 8.9 mmty.

Johnson said that while an investigation into the cause of the welding cracks at Gorgon is still underway, the initial findings indicate a manufacturing defect.

Johnson also struck a bullish tone on Chevron’s Eastern Mediterranean holdings, which it acquired through its takeover of Noble Energy Inc. last year. The assets include operating interests in the giant Tamar and Leviathan gas fields offshore Israel, which have around 2 Bcf/d of production capacity and an estimated 40 Tcf-plus of discovered resource. 

Chevron is exploring “various opportunities” to expand in the region, Johnson said.

The Eastern Mediterranean has seen a slew of recent natural gas discoveries by other operators. Italian operator Eni SpA notched a pair of large discoveries off Egypt last year, and partners ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum announced a huge reservoir offshore Cyprus in 2019.

“The nice thing there is that there are a number of different pathways available to us for further expansion,” Johnson said of Chevron’s holdings. He cited growing demand from regional export facilities, coal-to-gas switching and power markets.