* Woodside shuts Vincent oil field production
* Apache shuts Van Gogh field, evacuates non-essential
* Oil and gas, iron ore operators say monitoring tropical
PERTH, Jan 25 Woodside Petroleum
and Apache Corp said on Wednesday they have suspended
some oil production off Australia's northwest coast as a
tropical low threatens to develop into a cyclone.
A tropical low currently off the northwest coast could
strengthen into a Category 1 cyclone by 1200 GMT (2000 local
time) Wednesday and into a Category 2 cyclone late Friday,
according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.
Woodside, Australia's largest oil producer, said it had shut
oil production at its Vincent oil field. Apache shut production
at its Van Gogh field and evacuated non-essential personnel from
its offshore drilling operations.
Cyclones are a regular occurrence during Australian summers
and can often force offshore oil and gas platforms to suspend
operations and mobile marine units to seek safe harbours until
the storms pass.
The cyclone season off Australia's northwest typically runs
from November to April.
Woodside operates several other oil and gas fields in the
region, including the ones that feed its North West Shelf
liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the Pilbara coast.
Apache also has other oil and gas operations in the region,
including the Varanus Island gas processing hub which provides
about a third of Western Australia's domestic gas supply. It
said production from all its other facilities remained online.
BHP Billiton, which produces both iron ore and oil
and gas in the region another producer in the region, and
Chevron said they were monitoring the storm.
"We monitor all extreme weather activity closely and shut in
operations if we believe that is the safest course of action.
We do not intend to give a daily update on the status of all our
operations," BHP said in a statement.
Cyclones in the region can also move inland, disrupting iron
ore mining in the Pilbara region. Although the Pilbara region is
not in the path of the storm, the weather bureau said it may
"Rainfall is likely to increase later in the week in coastal
parts of the Pilbara," the bureau said.
A spokesman for Rio Tinto, the largest iron ore
producer in the region, said the company is monitoring the storm
but did not expect any impact from the storm.
The path of the cyclone will steer clear of Port Hedland,
the region's largest iron ore port, but a spokesman for the port
said it was also closely watching.