Apache restarts Australia's Stag oil field after cyclone

PERTH Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:00am EST

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PERTH Feb 28 (Reuters) - Apache Energy has restarted production from its Stag oil facility off the coast of Western Australia after the passage of Tropical Cyclone Rusty, which made landfall late on Wednesday, the company said.

The cyclone, packing winds of up to 200 kph (125 mph), had forced the closure of offshore oil and gas fields, and brought to a halt half the world's seaborne-traded iron ore, but spared the Port Hedland shipping hub, making landfall about 120 km (75 miles) to the east.

"Restart processes include the phased re-manning of offshore facilities and inspection for any possible cyclone-related damage," Apache said in a statement on Thursday.

Stag oil field 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.

Chevron Corp, which had evacuated non-essential personnel from its operations in the area, said it had begun to return workers to their posts.

The nearby Port Hedland, used by BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals to ship more than 20 million tonnes of iron ore a month, expects to reopen Thursday afternoon following an assessment of any damage caused by a cyclone.

Rusty is the fourth cyclone to form during Australia's 2012-13 "cyclone season", which runs from November to end April. There are typically 11 cyclones per season off Australia's northwest and northeast coasts.

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