Successful Completion of Key Dredging at Walker Shoal

The Ichthys LNG Project has completed the most technically challenging section of its Darwin Harbour dredging program.

Successfully avoiding the need for drilling and blasting, an experienced team adopted innovative techniques and technologies as an alternative to remove tough rock at Walker Shoal that was sometimes twice as hard as strengthened concrete.

To date, no environmental impacts from the dredging and disposal works have been identified by the Project’s comprehensive scientific environmental monitoring program, which keeps a close and continuous watch around the harbour.

INPEX Dredging Package Manager Harutoshi Usui said a team of over 250 people had worked hard to minimise disturbance to the community and environment, knowing the harbour is very big in people’s hearts.

“Though we always knew it would be technically challenging, deepening Walker Shoal was absolutely necessary so vessels could one day get to and from Blaydin Point safely,” Mr Usui said.

INPEX General Manager Darwin Sean Kildare said successfully completing the work with no drilling, no blasting and no identified environmental impacts shows the determination of this Project to meet its commitments and do right by Darwin.

“It’s a good result for us, it’s a good result for the environment and it’s a good result for the community – and it should give people further confidence about our will to go the extra step,” he said.

Tough and abrasive rock at Walker Shoal had been identified as potentially requiring drilling and blasting in the Ichthys Project Environmental Impact Statement, which was approved in May and June 2011 by Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments, respectively.

“We made a commitment to find an alternative, at a time when technically there wasn’t one available, and we have delivered on that commitment,” Mr. Kildare said.

Following a successful trial of an alternative method last year, the lead dredging contractor (international dredging company Van Oord) completed the work in 40 days over 8 months, using a combination of vessels, including the cutter suction dredger Athena, trailer suction hopper dredgers and a towed plough.

Mr Kildare said that while the team was proud of its achievement, no-one would be resting on their laurels.

“It’s very important for people to know that although we’ve completed Walker Shoal the rest of our dredging and marine construction activities are ongoing,” he said.

“We have run an extensive marine safety and awareness campaign in Darwin over the last two years and though people may be tired of hearing it, please stay 250 metres away from dredging vessels, equipment and construction activities at Blaydin Point.”

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