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Pluto LNG nearing completion but expansion plans still on hold

Oilfield Technology,

Woodside Petroleum’s CEO and MD, Don Voelte, has stated that the company’s Pluto LNG project is 92% complete and is on target to start-up at the end of February with first LNG expected in March.

However, the company has still not made a final investment decision on a second train at the Pluto LNG plant, Don Voelte has said that the company will not do so until 2011.

The reason for this delay is that the company did not want the Pluto LNG project to go head to head with Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project, which would have led to a competition for skills and labour, but as the Gorgon project has not come along as projected, Woodside now has more time to think about its final investment decision for Pluto.

Secondly, the exploration drilling to find resources to feed the LNG plant has not gone as smoothly as first anticipated, but they have still found six successful wells out of the ten the company started. A further six prospect wells are planned for 2010, and another six in 2011 as well.

The Pluto LNG site is capable of holding another four LNG trains though and Woodside have not ruled out the possibility of processing other resource owners (ORO) natural gas at the plant, given the natural gas resources that are in the Carnarvon Basin area. Don Voelte stated that, “In fact our [Woodside’s] ORO options are at a point of deliberations that we have ‘reserved’ two LNG train footprints for the remainder of the discussions that we hope will reach a conclusion by the end of this year.”

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