* 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
PERTH, May 21 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
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
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
(Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Mark Bendeich)