SYDNEY, April 18 Australia's top oil and gas
company, Woodside Petroleum Ltd, reported a 55 percent
rise in first-quarter production on Thursday, boosted by its
flagship Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.
The A$14.9 billion Pluto LNG project, which began production
in April last year, is Australia's third gas-export project and
the first to come online in six years.
Woodside said its first-quarter production of 21.9 million
barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe), up from 14.1 mmboe a year
ago, was in line with its 2013 production forecast of 88 mmboe
to 94 mmboe.
However, production in the three months to March 31 was down
10 percent on the prior quarter, due to an extreme cyclone
season and the suspension of production at its Vincent oilfield
for planned shipyard maintenance.
Quarterly sales revenue fell 18 percent to $1.45 billion.
Woodside said last week it had shelved plans for its $45
billion Browse LNG project in Western Australia, saying it will
consider a floating LNG plant after deciding the onshore
development did not make economic sense.
It said on Thursday that alternative development concepts
will be evaluated.
Woodside also said it had held "several engagements" in the
quarter with the Australian and East Timorese government over
its prospective Sunrise LNG plant in East Timor, a project that
has been locked in a sometimes bitter dispute.
Woodside prefers a floating LNG plant, while East Timor
prefers an onshore plant that will provide jobs for locals.
"Although these engagements do not represent any agreement
at this stage, the dialogue continues developing common ground
with both governments to find a way forward," the company said.
Pluto came online a year behind its original schedule. It is
Australia's first LNG project in six years and, alongside Angola
LNG, the only new supply due to enter the market until 2014 or