$10bn ExxonMobil-developed gas project initiated off central Vietnam

The Ca Voi Xanh (Blue Whale) gas field has some 150 billion cubic meters of gas in reserves

Officials are seen at the agreement signing ceremony in Hanoi on January 13, 2017 in this photo provided by PetroVietnam.

A massive US$10 billion project has been initiated on a gas field off the central Vietnamese coast, following agreements reached last week by a subsidiary of the country’s state-run energy giant PetroVietnam and the Vietnamese unit of ExxonMobil Corp.

The Ca Voi Xanh (Blue Whale) gas field, located some 80km off the central province of Quang Nam, has some 150 billion cubic meters of gas in reserves, three times the reserves of Nam Con Son, the country’s current biggest gas project.

The development activities on Ca Voi Xanh have been outlined in two agreements reached on January 13 between PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP) and ExxonMobil Vietnam, during U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the country.

The documents included a project framework heads of agreement and a gas sales heads of agreement.

A heads of agreement is a non-binding document outlining the main issues relevant to a tentative agreement, which will only be enforceable when it is adopted into a parent contract and subsequently agreed upon.

“The Ca Voi Xanh field is located about 80 km offshore central Vietnam and is an important natural gas discovery in Vietnam that has the potential to fuel the country's economic growth,” Exxon said in a statement to energy news website Natural Gas World.

The project framework heads of agreement provides a basis for optimizing the deployment of preliminary design and front-end engineering and design work, with a view to achieving the first gas from the project in late 2023, according to Natural Gas World.

The Ca Voi Xanh project could supply enough gas to four power plants with a total capacity of 3,000W, according to PVEP. Once expanded, the project could also supply power to the petrochemical or power sectors, the company added.

PetroVietnam said the project will contribute $20 billion to Vietnam’s state budget.

According to the agreements, ExxonMobil will develop an 88km pipeline system connecting the gas field with the Chu Lai beach in Quang Nam, whereas PetroVietnam will invest in a gas treating factory and a two-turbine power plant in the province’s Nui Thanh District.

The Vietnamese company also has plans to develop another power plant in nearby Quang Ngai Province.

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