Woodside targets Burma

Woodside Petroleum's oil production was affected in the last quarter by an extreme cyclone season.  Photo / Getty Images
Woodside Petroleum's oil production was affected in the last quarter by an extreme cyclone season. Photo / Getty Images

Woodside Petroleum is confident of meeting its full-year targets as it posts a sharp jump in quarterly production and starts exploration work in Burma.

The Australian company's flagship Pluto project drove a 55 per cent increase in first-quarter production volumes to 21.9 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) compared with the same period last year.

But production was 10 per cent lower than in the previous quarter due to the effects of an extreme cyclone season and a floating storage vessel at its Vincent oil field being offline for maintenance.

The oil and gas giant is looking to develop offshore projects in Burma and Israel after shelving its Browse gas hub in Western Australia last week.

"There are no active discussions with other resource owners with regard to the Pluto expansion," the company said in its March quarter report.

Woodside, Australia's largest pure-play petroleum group, said its production target range for 2013 was unchanged at between 88MMboe and 94 MMboe, with 41 per cent of sales coming from its Pluto project.

Total sales revenue lifted 21 per cent to US$1.445 billion from US$1.197 billion for the March quarter in 2012.

Better year-on-year production results were due to the reliability of Woodside's new US$14.9 billion Pluto liquefied natural gas project in Western Australia, which is producing at 90 per cent capacity, coupled with the ongoing strong performance of the North West Shelf business.

The company almost doubled LNG volumes but oil volumes decreased 45 per cent, resulting in lower average realised prices.

The Perth-based company added that partnership agreements were executed in Burma in January and March and a seismic survey was completed in late March.

Woodside is also working on signing a formal agreement to take a 30 per cent equity stake in the Leviathan gas field in Israel.

The company has not reached an agreement to proceed with the Sunrise LNG project.

Patersons oil and gas analyst Alexis Clark said overall production was in line with previous guidance but expansion projects at Pluto and Sunrise were going slowly.

"Pluto is really the main driver of their higher production and revenue forecasts," Clark said.

He noted that early exploration work had begun in Burma but it was "not hugely material".

Playtpus Asset Management resources analyst Anna Kassianos said Pluto was now at 90 per cent production capacity but cyclone activity had marred the March quarter results relative to the December quarter.

"They need to ramp up Pluto to full capacity and hopefully the weather will be more friendly."


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