Woodside CEO: Shell in no rush to sell its Woodside

PERTH Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:02am EDT

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PERTH (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), the biggest shareholder in Woodside Energy (WPL.AX), has given no indication that it is in any hurry to sell its 24 percent stake in Woodside, the Australian company's chief said on Wednesday.

"They gave us no indication that they were in a hurry to do anything at this point," Peter Coleman told reporters on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Business Forum.

Shell sold down a third of its stake in Woodside last year and promised not to sell any more until after November 8 this year.

Woodside has offered to market Shell's stake if and when the company decided to sell shares, Coleman said.

Coleman said he was "heartened" by constructive discussions with the East Timor government about the company's stalled Sunrise LNG project.

Woodside has long argued that the most commercially viable option for developing the Sunrise gas field, which straddles East Timorese and Australian waters, is a floating LNG plant, while East Timor has argued for an onshore plant.

"Nobody changed positions, I didn't expect to because it wasn't a meeting to go and negotiate," Coleman said.

"What we are going through now is a dialogue. We hope to establish a path that we can start to move forward."

The talks between Woodside and East Timor are the first since Coleman took the helm as Woodside's chief. Under his predecessor, relations between the two parties had soured.

East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta last week expressed hope that the two sides will make a breakthrough to develop the large gas project and said his government was "positively impressed" by Coleman.

Woodside's Pluto LNG project off Western Australia is still on track to ship its first cargo of LNG in March 2012, Coleman said, but could not put a date on a final investment decision date for a second train for the project.

Although Woodside has planned for some time to build a second LNG train at the Pluto site, it has been delayed in moving forward with those plans due to a lack of gas resources.

Woodside is in discussions with possible gas suppliers for Pluto 2 in addition to continuing to explore for gas resources itself.

(Editing by Ed Davies)

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