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Western Australia’s Major Gas Plant Experiences Sudden Failure

Western Australia’s gas supply system is under strain following an unexpected outage at Chevron’s Wheatstone domestic gas plant, one of the state’s largest gas plants.

The plant suffered a technical failure on the evening of Jan. 5, which resulted in gas production ceasing.

“Chevron is continuing restart activities at the Wheatstone Domestic Gas Plant, which is expected to resume production in the coming days,” a Wheatstone spokesperson told The Epoch Times.

“An unplanned outage occurred at the plant during the evening of 5 January, caused by equipment failure.”

“We are continuing to work with our customers, the regulator, and the broader market, to meet demand, including Gorgon’s 300 terajoule domestic gas plant running at full capacity.”

Kate Ryan, the WA executive general manager at Australian Energy Market Operator, said the outage at the Wheatstone facility is “expected to be short-term in nature.”

“At this stage, there is no impact to electricity supplies in the South West Interconnected System, with sufficient supply available to meet demand.”

“AEMO will continue supporting the government and gas industry by sharing information through the WA Gas Bulletin Board’s Emergency Management Facility, as required.”

Earlier Leak

The incident comes after Santos, the state’s biggest domestic producer of gas, reported a gas leak in a subsea flange on the main gas trunkline from the John Brookes platform at Varanus Island and Devil Creek facility.

Energy minister Bill Johnstone said Western Australia’s energy network is complex and challenges like these “will occur.” 

“Increased production and the use of stored gas, as well as reduced consumption by industry, means gas supplies have continued to meet demand.”

The state government is working with industry to ensure that Western Australia continues to be well supplied with gas. 

As of Sunday, Wheatstone Ashburton West Pipeline is not producing any gas. The pipeline capacity is 337 terajoules per day—about 30 percent of the state’s demand, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) WA gas bulletin board. 

Meanwhile, Santos’ Devil Creek plant, which accounts for about 16 percent of the state’s demand production capacity, dropped from 180 terajoules of gas per day a week ago to 40 terajoules per day.

It comes as the WA domestic gas market faces a “tight” supply-demand balance between 2023 and 2029, with demand up to 5 percent higher than potential supply, according to the industry’s 10-year outlook.

The AEMO has warned that renewables are projected to only partly replace shuttered coal plants, while gas generation is forecast to be required for baseload power and security and integrity of the power grid.

Demand is expected to exceed potential supply from 2023 to 2026, but supply gets back into the black from 2027 to 2029 if Woodside Energy’s Scarborough project comes online as scheduled. 

The domestic gas market then moves into a larger deficit from 2030 onwards as coal generation is shut down, and from a decline in production from existing gas fields.

“The strong linkages between WA’s gas and electricity sectors mean that changes occurring in one sector will have an impact on the other,” AEMO executive Kate Ryan said.

AAP contributed to this article. 

Nina Nguyen

Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural, and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at nina.nguyen@epochtimes.com.au.

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