(Adds background on past outages, future plant expansion plans)
By Oleg Vukmanovic
LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) - Chevron Corp has shut the first production line at its giant Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Australia and expects the outage to last about a month in order to replace a faulty device, a spokesman said on Monday.
“Production on Gorgon Train 1 was stopped on May 12 due to a failure of a flow measurement device,” the company said in a statement.
“Train 1 is expected to be down approximately one month for this replacement and we will take this opportunity to perform other routine maintenance,” it said.
Chevron has struggled to maintain stable production at the $54 billion project, which came on stream in March last year, following a string of unplanned shutdowns since then.
Gorgon’s third production line started up in March 2017, bringing combined export capacity to 15.6 million tonnes.
On a conference call in April, Chevron Asia Pacific Exploration and Production president Stephen Green said work was carried out to address a reliability issue identified on Gorgon’s first two production lines, or trains.
It is unclear if recurring production setbacks at Gorgon could hinder or delay Chevron’s plans to bolster the efficiency of the plant and to lift production capacity through a process known as debottlenecking.
Chevron said trains 2 and 3 were running normally and the plant is continuing to ship cargoes.
Chevron holds a controlling stake of 47.3 percent in the project, while ExxonMobil and Shell each have a 25 percent stake. The remaining stakes are held by Osaka Gas , Tokyo Gas and JERA. (Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic, editing by David Evans)