* Q1 production at 21.9 mmboe, up from 14.1 mmboe a year ago
* Says in line with 2013 production forecast of 88-94 mmboe
* Q1 production down 10 percent from the prior quarter
* Woodside shares slip around 3.5 percent
SYDNEY, April 18 Woodside Petroleum Ltd
, Australia's top oil and gas company, 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.
It, alongside Angola LNG, is the only new supply due to
enter the market until 2014 or 2015.
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 from 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's shares slipped around 3.5 percent to A$33.86 per
share on Thursday afternoon, its biggest daily percentage drop
since May last year.
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.
But the East Timorese government released a statement on
Thursday calling into question Woodside's cost estimates for a
floating LNG plant, suggesting the two parties may not be any
closer to agreeing on a development option.
"Margins of error on early developer's estimates are
typically very high ... land based LNG is a well established and
proven alternative, allowing the cost risk to be more tightly
bounded," the East Timorese government said in the statement,
adding that floating LNG could be nearly twice as costly as a
Woodside said it sees "a window of opportunity to reach
agreement on the project during 2013".
"Woodside, the Sunrise Joint Venture, and the governments of
Timor-Leste and Australia are aligned in their desire to develop
the Greater Sunrise fields. Through ongoing dialogue, we believe
there remains an opportunity to agree on a development which
satisfies the key requirements of all parties," the company said
in an emailed statement.
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.