ExxonMobil Corp. and BHP Billiton are partnering to build the world’s largest floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) processing and export plant off Australia’s northwest coast.

The Scarborough FLNG plant is scheduled to begin producing 6-7 million metric tons per year (mmty) of LNG in 2020-2021. The 0.3-mile-long-vessel is to be moored 137 miles off Australia’s northwestern coast, according to ExxonMobil.

Based on the seven LNG projects now under construction in Australia, ExxonMobil and BHP’s plant would increase Australia’s LNG supplies by almost 30%. ExxonMobil provided no cost estimate in its filing. A final investment decision by ExxonMobil and BHP is to be made in 2014-2015.

Australia LNG facilities are scheduled to begin ramping up as soon as 2014; more than half have seen their costs balloon up to 40% because of supply and labor shortages. The bevy of projects could allow Australia to overtake Qatar as the No. 1 LNG exporter by 2020 (see Daily GPI, March 11).

Royal Dutch Shell plc, considered the industry leader in FLNG systems, is building the Prelude FLNG plant off the coast of Australia. Prelude, which would be the world’s first FLNG vessel, is to have capacity of 3.6 mmty when it comes online in 2017. Shell has indicated that the Prelude project would cost $10.8-12.6 billion.

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