FRONT end engineering and design has commenced by the North West Shelf joint venture partners led by Woodside Petroleum, with Hess Exploration Australia to process resources from the Equus project within Hess’s permits in the Carnarvon basin.

The undeveloped Equus gas fields are located within Hess’s WA 390 P permit in offshore Western Australia.

Woodside announced the development in late April and said the scope includes both technical activities and progression of key commercial agreements in order to inform a proposed final investment decision.

The North West Shelf project participants are expected to make a final investment decision in 2017.

Hess is expected to deliver gas to the North West Shelf project’s offshore infrastructure for processing at the Karratha gas plant and take responsibility for marketing and delivering its own volumes, according to Woodside.

This recent development follows on from the letter of intent signed by the North West Shelf participants and Hess in December 2014.

The Equus project is a US$6 billion investment and will see Hess pay the North West Shelf partners tolling fees to use the Karratha facility to prepare gas for export to Asia Pacific.

The Equus deepwater fields are located in the WA 390 P and WA 474 P permits, which cover over 400,000 hectares about 185 kilometres off the north west coast of Australia.

Woodside is the operator of the project and hold 16.67 per cent interest, with BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, Shell and Japan Australia LNG also holding 16.67% interest in the project.