By Sonali Paul
MELBOURNE, March 10 (Reuters) - Chevron Corp plans to shut Train 3 at the Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant off Western Australia in the second quarter for maintenance and weld inspections, the company said overnight.
The weld inspections are needed after problems were discovered in propane kettles in Trains 1 and 2 at the three-train, 15.6 million tonnes a year plant, which accounts for nearly 5% of global LNG trade.
Repairs have been completed on the heat exchangers in Train 1 and Train 2, Chevron's upstream vice president Jay Johnson told analysts at the company's investor day.
In the second quarter he said the company needs to do inspections on Train 3 and any required repairs, then do a scheduled maintenance turnaround.
Despite the issues with the heat exchangers, which the company said appeared to be due to manufacturing defects, Gorgon's reliability has been steadily increasing, with the plant operating above its nameplate capacity, Johnson said.
"We've actually increased the initial capacity by 5% and that incremental 5% is pretty valuable for us. And so we look forward to getting through the second quarter and establishing a good run of production as we enter the second half of this year," Johnson said.
He said the company's Wheatstone LNG plant is also operating back at full tilt, running 9% above its original design capacity of 8.9 million tonnes a year, after repairing equipment that separates natural gas and associated liquids at its Wheatstone offshore processing platform. (Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Richard Pullin)