Apache shuts Australia's Stag oil field ahead of cyclone

PERTH Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:38am EST

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PERTH Feb 25 (Reuters) - Apache Energy said on Monday that it has stopped production from its Stag oil facility off the coast of Western Australia ahead of Tropical Cyclone Rusty.

The category 2 cyclone will likely strengthen into a category 4 cyclone with winds of up to 280 kilometres per hour (170 miles per hour) by Wednesday morning, when it makes landfall, the Australian weather bureau said.

Apache said it will continue to monitor the path of the cyclone, but did not say when it expects to restart production at the Stag oil field, which produces about 8,800 barrels of oil per day.

Woodside, Santos, Chevron, and BHP Billiton also produce oil from offshore fields that contribute about a third of Australia's oil production of 390,000 barrels per day.

Woodside said it is taking precautions to safeguard its employees and assets in response to the cyclone. Other operators in the area did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Australia's cyclone season runs from November to April, with at least half a dozen storms forming there each season. The northwest region is also home to two of the country's largest gas production facilities, Woodside's Northwest Shelf and Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants.

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A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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