Cooper Energy (ASX: COE) and partner Mitsui Group have committed $55 million to upgrade the currently idle Minerva gas plant which will allow the supply of 16 petajoules of so far undeveloped gas, resulting in boost supply in south-east Australia.
The Minerva gas plant near Port Campbell, Victoria, has supplied gas to Melbourne via the South West Pipeline and to Adelaide via the SEAGas Port Campbell to Adelaide Pipeline.
The new development includes a connection to process gas produced from the Casino, Henry and Netherby fields owned by Cooper and Mitsui. The plant will be renamed Athena.
The investment decision follows the successful exploration work by the two companies that resulted in the discovery of Annie-1 in the Otway Basin — the first offshore discovery in south-east Australia in more than seven years.
Cooper holds a 50% interest and is the operator.
The $55 million commitment follows the partners taking possession of the gas plant last December.
Since then front-end engineering and design work have been completed, allowing the final investment decision. That work cost $17.8 million and now the plant upgrade will involve spending $37 million.
First gas will flow in 2021
Cooper managing director David Maxwell said this was an important commitment to infrastructure investment, local jobs and increased domestic gas supply.
“This is a ‘shovel-ready’ project which will see Cooper and Mitsui upgrade the idle Minerva gas plant to be a processing hub for local production and discoveries in offshore Otway Basin,” he added.
It will mean jobs for local contractors and help deliver reliable gas supplies to the east coast market, said Mr Maxwell.
The project will see drawing of gas from four offshore wells (Casino-4, Casino-5, Henry-2 and Netherby-1) into the Minerva plant by a pipeline tie-in.
First gas is expected within the September quarter in 2021, with allowances already made for COVID-19 delays.
Cooper is an ASX 200 exploration and production company which generates revenue from gas supply to south-east Australia and low-cost Cooper Basin oil production.
The company describes itself as an emerging player in the region with assets that include the Sole gas field in the Gippsland Basin which became the first new offshore gas development in south-east Australia to commence production in several years.