Pluto LNG investment decision unlikely this year

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Aug. 18 -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd. virtually admitted its Pluto LNG expansion project will not reach a final investment decision this year as originally stated.

In the company’s half-year report, Woodside said the final investment decision on Pluto LNG Trains 2 and 3 remain contingent on securing sufficient feedstock gas either through its own exploration or through third party supplies.

The report then added, “Work will continue into 2011 to achieve the investment case for Pluto expansion.”

The company added a softener by noting its concerns about competition for construction resources from other LNG projects had not materialized. This, together with the delay in drilling its planned 20-well program, provides extra time to further its exploration efforts.

So far just half the exploration wells have been drilled. Six have encountered gas. However, early results have not provided the support needed for the Pluto expansion. Nor has third party gas materialized.

Of the two most recent discoveries, the best (Alaric-1 in permit WA 434-P on the Exmouth Plateau) is in more than 1,000 m of water and 500 km off Western Australia.

Work on Pluto Train 1, however, remains on schedule with a target on stream date for the end of February. The first LNG shipment from the Burrup Peninsula plant is expected a month later.

Both onshore and offshore sectors of Pluto Train 1 project are moving into the commissioning phase, and this will continue for the remainder of this year.

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