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Important decisions made several years ago to employ a largely Northern Territory workforce at the Ichthys LNG onshore processing facilities paid off handsomely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The INPEX-operated plant was able to operate safely and efficiently. INPEX Northern Territory General Manager Roland Houareau says: “We have worked closely with our local contractors during the past few months and together we managed the situation well.” The plant is enormously important to the Territory economy.

At peak, INPEX’s Bladin Point produces 8.9 million tonnes of LNG and 1.6 million tonnes of LPG per year, plus more than 15,000 barrels of condensate per day. Over the projected life span of 40 years, the Ichthys LNG onshore facilities will inject up to $200 million annually into the Territory economy.

Mr Houareau, who has been coming to the NT for work since 2003 and settled in Darwin with his family in January last year, is proud that there are hundreds of “INPEX families” in the Top End. “We’re very much a part of the community,” he says.

“We all live here – work here, shop here, send our kids to school here – so we feel very attached to the place and want the best for our community.” The company continues to partner with community organisations in the NT, including AFLNT, the SHAK youth drop-in centre operated by the Australian Red Cross, the Australian Volunteer Coastguard, the Palmerston Girls’ Academy, Menzies School of Health, Foodbank NT and a range of small grant recipients through the INPEX Community Investment and Sponsorship program.

The future is bright for the Territory’s LNG industry. Economists believe there will be a world shortfall of 100 million tonnes of LNG per year by 2024. Global management consultancy McKinsey & Company says growing demand means $600 billion needs to be invested in LNG worldwide from 2027.

Qatar, which rivals Australia as the world’s biggest LNG exporter, is demonstrating its confidence in the future market by commissioning 60 new gas ships. Although global oil market prices have been hit hard in 2020, the INPEX business vision remains clear and robust.

“From a medium to long-term perspective, the outlook for growth in Asian demand for energy and particularly LNG, remains unchanged,” says Mr Houareau. “The road ahead will be challenging but I’m confident because we have a strong ecosystem surrounding our business here in Darwin.

“At a personal level, I’m all for the Territory – I’m passionate about this place– and would like nothing more than to see growth and success here.” TQ