MELBOURNE, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Australian oil and gas producer Santos expects to lift its oil and gas production to between 53 million-57 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2013, around 4 percent more than it expects to produce this year, it said on Thursday.
The higher output will be underpinned by the start-up of the A$490 million ($507 million) Fletcher Finucane oil field off the coast of Western Australia in the second half of 2013, it said in an investor presentation.
It added it was on track to start producing more than 25,000 barrels a day of oil at its Dua project in Vietnam in the first half of 2014.
Capital spending in 2013 is forecast to rise to A$4 billion from an expected A$3.5 billion this year as it hits peak spending on its Gladstone liquefied natural gas project, costs rise at its partner ExxonMobil’s LNG project in Papua New Guinea and it expands infrastructure in the Cooper Basin.
Santos played down the threat of competition from North American gas suppliers, in contrast to a recent report by Societe Generale saying that Australian LNG project expansions would be hard to justify at current costs.
Santos said by 2025 there would be an LNG supply gap of 140 million tonnes a year that would need to be filled in the Asia Pacific region even with North American supply flowing across the Pacific. ($1 = 0.9665 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by John Mair)