Woodside finds more gas off W. Australia; Pluto delayed

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. has made a welcome natural gas discovery in its WA-404-P permit off Western Australia, but has announced a 6-month delay to the first LNG shipment from its Pluto project.

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Dec. 3 -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd. has made a welcome natural gas discovery in its WA-404-P permit off Western Australia, but has announced a 6-month delay to the first LNG shipment from its Pluto project.

The company’s Remy-1 wildcat intersected two separate gas zones of 33 m and 39 m gross interval within the well’s Triassic-age target.

Wireline logging is being carried out to obtain pressure data and gas samples.

The well was drilled to a total depth of 4,555 m by the Ocean America semisubmersible. The find is about 500 m from last year’s Martell gas discovery, which had a gas column of 110 m (OGJ Online, Feb. 25, 2009).

Woodside secured 100% of WA-404-P several months ago after buying Hess Corp.’s 50% interest for an undisclosed amount.

There are now five discoveries in the permit: Martell, Noblige, Larsen, Larsen Deep, and Remy. All are part of a program by Woodside to secure sufficient gas reserves to use as feedstock for an expanded Pluto LNG project (Trains 2 and 3) on the Burrup Peninsula.

On the downside, however, Woodside’s announced delay to the on-stream date for its Pluto Train 1 LNG program from March to August 2011. In addition the company says its costs have blown out by 6.9% from around $13 billion (Aus.) to a new estimate of $14 billion (Aus.).

The company says the delay is due to the failure of the project’s flare tower contractor to take into account the specified wind loading requirement for the structures.

Woodside elected to replace the towers instead of doing remedial work.

In the meantime, the company has completed front-end engineering design for Pluto LNG Trains 2 and 3 and is planning to order long lead-time items in 2011.

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