Energy firm Santos has commenced front-end engineering and design (FEED) for the Dorado field development project offshore Western Australia.

Being developed in two phases, the Dorado oil and gas project is expected to have an initial gross production rate of between 75,000 to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of high-quality crude.

Estimated to cost approximately $2bn, phase one of the project involves the production of oil and condensate through a wellhead platform (WHP) and floating production, storage and offloading facility (FPSO).

In a press statement, Santos said: “The selected concept of an FPSO and WHP allows for the optimal integrated development of both the gas and liquids resource and retains sufficient flexibility to support future exploration success. Gas will be reinjected in the initial phase to enhance oil and condensate recovery.”

Phase two involves the development of significant natural gas resources in the Bedout Sub-basin.

The firm plans to announce the final investment decision for the project around mid-2022.

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Santos managing director and CEO Kevin Gallagher said: “Dorado is on track to be the first development in the Bedout Sub-basin, with its high-quality reservoirs and shallow-water setting, making it a very cost-competitive project globally.

“Dorado is also a very low CO₂ reservoir with approximately 1.5% CO₂ and with all gas reinjected in the initial phase, making it one of the lowest emission intensity oil projects in the region.”

Santos, which owns an 80% stake in the project, plans to award FEED contracts for the FPSO and WHP design in the next few months.

Carnarvon Petroleum holds the remaining stake in the Santos-operated project, which is estimated to hold 150 million barrels (MMbpd) of contingent 2C oil resources.

Earlier this year, reports emerged that Santos is planning to divest a stake in the Dorado field and the exploration portfolio in Bedout Basin.