January 29, 2010 / 5:11 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Origin seeks environmental nod for A$35bln LNG project

* Origin posts 2 pct gain in Q2 output, revenue up 16 pct

* Lodges draft environmental impact statement to govt (Adds details)

PERTH, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Australia’s Origin Energy Ltd (ORG.AX) reported a small rise in quarterly output on Friday and said it had sought formal environmental clearance for its gas export project with U.S. ConocoPhillips (COP.N).

Origin, the country’s largest producer of coal seam gas, said the lodging of the draft environmental statement with the Queensland state government advances the A$35 billion ($31.3 billion) project towards a final investment decision by December this year and first LNG shipments by late 2014.

Origin posted a 2 percent gain in its second-quarter output and a 16 percent rise in revenue, helped by higher commodity prices.

Production for the three months ended Dec. 31 was 24 petajoules equivalent (PJe), bringing its half year output to 49.8 PJe. Sales revenue for the quarter was A$135.4 million.

While the lodging of the environmental statement is a key project milestone, investors are still looking for firm gas sales before validating the project, analysts say.

There are four other projects racing to start exporting Australian coal seam gas and the Origin/Conoco development is seen by some analysts as a falling behind the rivals as it was yet to lock in any gas sales.

Origin’s project, also known as Australia Pacific LNG, will produce between 3.5-4 million tonnes per year (mtpy) of LNG in the first phase in 2014, before progressively expanding up to 14-16 mtpy.

Origin shares were down 0.7 percent at A$15.99 by 0434 GMT, outperforming a 2.1 percent fall in the broader market .

Origin has not given a production forecast for fiscal year 2010 but it expects its underlying profit to rise between 10-15 percent helped by higher output from its power stations, wind farms, and the start up of the Kupe gas field in New Zealand. ($1=1.118 Australian Dollar) (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Denny Thomas)

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