Woodside switches on Pluto LNG project

3/23/2012

BY ROSS KELLEY

SYDNEY -- First gas has entered Woodside Petroleum's A$14.9 billion Pluto export project in Western Australia state for processing into liquefied natural gas, the energy company said.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, Woodside said the project had reached "ready for start up" status, and that first gas entered the LNG processing train late in the afternoon.

First production of LNG will occur "in the coming weeks" followed by deliveries to Japanese customers. Woodside didn't say whether the deliveries were on track to start from late March.

The company, however, reiterated its expectation that the project will produce 17-21 million boe in 2012, indicating that everything is at least broadly on schedule. Woodside said Pluto's long-term average annual production is expected to be about 37 million boe.

The foundation stage of the project, which Woodside eventually wants to expand, will be capable of producing 4.3 million metric tons of LNG a year.

UBS said this week that the tanker scheduled to make the first delivery, the LNG Ebisu, was recently located offshore Europe and also has a delivery to make for the North West Shelf LNG project. That could imply first gas from Pluto may not be shipped until the second half of April or early May, the broker said.

Dow Jones Newswires

Woodside switches on Pluto LNG project

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