Japanese oil company Inpex has announced that its $34bn Ichthys project is set to open in late-2016.

Inpex chief executive Toshiaki Kitamura told the West Australian that the Ichthys project was 68% complete.

Industry speculation is that the project may face potential delays and would fall short of budget in addition to timetable blowouts.

Inpex is forging ahead with the project development with its 30% project partner Total.

The Ichthys project, which secured development approval in January 2012, started the deepwater pipelay for its 889km-long gas export pipeline in February.

The remaining 718km offshore section of the 42in diameter GEP will be laid by Saipem’s deepwater installation vessel Castorone.

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As part of the project’s ongoing offshore installation campaign, mooring installation works have started in May at the Ichthys Field in the Browse Basin, 220km offshore Western Australia.

The first of 49 foundation piles, each 66m long and weighing more than 450t, was deployed and driven into the seabed at a depth of 250m.

According to the company, the Ichthys LNG project had installed 47km of flowlines, more than 30 flowline sleeper structures and a 6,500t riser support structure in the Ichthys Field as of May 2015.

Image: The first of 49 foundation piles deployed and driven into the seabed at the Ichthys Field. Photo: courtesy of Inpex.