May 21, 2009 / 1:23 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Woodside in talks with Apache on Pluto project gas

3 Min Read

* Woodside in talks with Apache and KUFPEC to buy gas

* Says gas from Apache's fields could support Pluto 2

* Woodside said talks are on non-exclusive basis (Adds details, background)

PERTH, May 21 (Reuters) - Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd (WPL.AX) is in talks with U.S. firm Apache Energy (APA.N), and Apache's Kuwaiti partner, to buy gas to support Woodside's Pluto gas-export project off western Australia.

Woodside said on Thursday it had signed a non-binding letter with Apache and state-owned Kuwait Foreign Petroleum and Exploration Co (KUFPEC) to negotiate gas purchases from the Apache-run Julimar and Brunello fields off western Australia.

Woodside, Australia's second-largest oil and gas producer, said such gas purchases would be aimed at supporting a second production train at Pluto.

The talks with Apache and KUFPEC are on a non-exclusive basis and Woodside continues to discuss Pluto's expansion options with a number of parties, Woodside said in response to media reports that Apache expected to sell gas to Woodside for Pluto train-two.

Shares in Woodside were down 1.5 percent at A$44.15 by 0116 GMT, compared with a 1 percent fall in the energy index .AXEJ.

Woodside, 34 percent owned by Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), has been seeking additional gas resources from operators of neighbouring fields as it aims to expand the A$12 billion ($9.34 billion) Pluto project, which would significantly improve the economics of the development.

Pluto is currently a single-train production facility with an output of 4.3 million tonnes per annum. First LNG production is expected in late 2010.

Apache has said that its Julimar and Brunello fields, which lie northwest to the Pluto facility, is expected to hold several trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas. Apache holds 65 percent of the fields while KUFPEC owns the rest.

Woodside has also stepped up exploration off northwest Australia with the hope of securing more gas reserves of more than 3 tcf that is required to underpin a two-train development at Pluto. (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

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