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AAP News (Australia): Woodside delivers dip in production after cyclones

Ben Sharples, AAP News – Australasia
Published: Apr 18, 2007

PERTH, April 18 AAP – Woodside Petroleum Ltd has reported a dip in production during the first quarter of 2007 after four cyclones battered its West Australian operations this year.

Woodside, Australia’s biggest independent oil and gas producer, delivered an output of 18 million barrels of oil equivalent (Mmboe) in the three months to March 31. The result was 4.9 per cent lower than the 19 Mmboe produced in the fourth quarter, but was 25.9 per cent higher than the 14.3 Mmboe produced in the corresponding quarter of 2006. Woodside, which is looking to produce between 72 Mmboe and 78 Mmboe in calendar 2007, said the drop in production was primarily the result of interruptions caused by tropical cyclones.

The oil and gas producer said also that it was still having issues with its $1 billion Chinguetti oil field in Mauritania, with output in the first quarter almost 20 per cent lower than the previous quarter. Shaw Stockbroking resources analyst John Colnan said the first quarter was broadly in line with market expectations but that Chinguetti continued to disappoint. “The quarter was more or less in line … the only disappointment was Chinguetti,” he said.

Recent media speculation suggested that Woodside might be assessing whether o sell off its troubled Mauritania assets. “It is always possible … Woodside do have bigger fish to fry at home at the moment, unlocking Pluto and unlocking Browse (both off the coast of WA) and the full value of the North West Shelf,” Mr Colnan said. Woodside was unavailable for comment.

The Browse liquified natural gas (LNG) development, which is expected to cost up to $10 billion to develop, is expected to deliver its first gas to Japanese customers by the end of 2010. The Enfield oil field, off the coast of WA, appears to have shrugged off its early troubles when water unexpectedly cut one of the wells in September, with output 12 per cent higher in the Mach quarter than the previous quarter.

However, overall revenue for the quarter took a hit from lower commodity prices and was 18.1 per cent down on the previous quarter at $899.3 million. But the result was 24.9 per cent higher than the $719.9 million recorded in the first quarter of 2006, as a result of increased production from the North West Shelf Venture (NWSJV) and the contribution from Enfield. Woodside, which is 34 per cent owned Shell, added 30 cents to $39.24 by 1546 AEST. AAP bls/jmc

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