The West Barracouta gas project, which is expected to deliver new gas supplies to the Australian domestic market, will involve the development of a sweet gas reservoir in Bass Strait. It will involve tieback of two brownfield wells into the existing Barracouta platform infrastructure.

The project is part of the Gippsland Basin Joint Venture, owned 50:50 by Esso Australia and BHP Billiton Petroleum (Bass Strait), the respective subsidiaries of ExxonMobil and BHP. Esso Australia is the operator of the joint venture, which is said to have been covering nearly 40% of east coast Australian domestic gas demand.

ExxonMobil Production president Neil Duffin said: “We continue to use advanced technology, along with our extensive, decades-long understanding of the Gippsland Basin, to ensure full potential of the resource can be realized.

“Our objective is to produce West Barracouta gas for the Australian domestic gas market by 2021.”

According to ExxonMobil, the West Barracouta gas project builds on the $4bn plus investment made by the joint venture across other recent projects like the Kipper Tuna Turrum offshore project and the Longford Gas Conditioning Plant in Victoria to address the gas demand of the Australian domestic market.

BHP, which has approved the development of the western dome of the West Barracouta gas field in Bass Strait, will invest its share of around A$200m ($144.58m) in the project.

BHP Petroleum Australia general manager Graham Salmond said: “The West Barracouta project is an important investment, underpinned by strong economics and rates of return, that will unlock a high quality, new gas resource and help offset Bass Strait production decline at a vital time for the east coast market.”

In August, Esso Deepwater Gippsland, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Australia, launched an A$120m ($87.76m) offshore exploration drilling program in the in the VIC/P70 block in Gippsland Basin. In this connection, the ExxonMobil subsidiary has been undertaking drilling of the Baldfish and Hairtail exploration wells with the Ocean Monarch semi-submersible drilling rig.