BHP Billiton Ltd, an Exxon Mobil Corp's venture in Southeast Australia has halted supplies of ethane to chemical plants in Melbourne's west after a pipeline ruptured. The rupture was caused by a ship that dragged its anchor during a storm across the pipeline. Exxon is assessing the damage to the 10 inch diameter line and sending equipment to the site. Repair procedure and resumption of supplies from the Bass Strait petroleum venture is currently difficult to estimate, and is being assessed.
Exxon and Melbourne-based BHP Billiton are equal stakeholders of the Bass Strait petroleum business, the largest in Australia's eastern states. Ethane is separated from liquefied petroleum gases at Long Island Point for transportation by a 78 km (48 mile) pipeline to chemical plants in western Melbourne. The venture is working with its two customers, Qenos Pty and Huntsman Chemical Co. Qenos, owned by China National Chemical Corp., has reduced output of ethylene at Altona. Western Melbourne, because of the interruption to supplies. Ethane from stockpiles and liquefied petroleum gas as alternative fuels are being used instead.