01/05/2008 - 13:31

Woodside not panicking over Pluto 2

01/05/2008 - 13:31

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Woodside Petroleum Ltd said it is determined to find the right type of gas for the expansion of its Pluto LNG project, despite poor exploration results which could lead the oil and gas producer to miss its end-of-year final investment decision deadline.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd said it is determined to find the right type of gas for the expansion of its Pluto LNG project, despite poor exploration results which could lead the oil and gas producer to miss its end-of-year final investment decision deadline.

Speaking to journalists after the company's annual general meeting in Perth today, chief executive Don Voelte said he would rather wait for the right type of gas rather than build a plant for the sake of it.

"To make our timeframe of building, we'll have to get something done by the end of 2009 if we want to keep the same schedule," Mr Voelte said.

"We would like to find gas to go into Pluto [2] or to contract gas to go into Pluto so that we could roll some of our contractors over from Pluto 1 to Pluto 2, that's our goal, it's a strategy.

"But if we're unable to do, we're not going to sit there and build a plant on speculation.

"Management is not panicking."

Mr Voelte also addressed the exploration holes drilled at Pluto 2 that failed to return any signs of gas, saying it instead returned a different snap shot of the geology to what was expected.

"Its exciting because, we didn't find gas with it, but we certainly found out a lot different geology than what we were expecting, and I'm just saying is that it certainly led our people to think about things in a different way," he said.

The comments follow a disappointing year in exploration for Woodside, which Mr Voelte said extended to the oil and gas industry as a whole.

"Last year the industry had a horrible year in exploration ... there's really not much to ride home about last year so 2007 will go down in terms of oil and gas exploration as a really lousy year," Mr Voelte said.

"Our track record [on exploration success] over the years has been good; exploration goes in cycles, you get hot, you get not."

In his AGM speech, Mr Voelte said Woodside is targeting between now and 2010 final investment decisions on the expansion of Pluto and the development of the Browse and Sunrise assets.

Following the approval of the $5 billion North Rankin 2 project at the North West Shelf Venture, Woodside now has more than $22 billion worth of projects under construction.

Shareholders today approved the $413.4 million acquisition of Shell's oil interests in the North West Shelf.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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