Woodside aims to accelerate growth with multiple hubs worldwide

PRODUCTION from Africa, the Gulf of Mexico and north-western Australia would drive Woodside Petroleum's push towards ambitious growth targets over the next decade, chief executive Don Voelte said yesterday.
Woodside aims to accelerate growth with multiple hubs worldwide Woodside aims to accelerate growth with multiple hubs worldwide Woodside aims to accelerate growth with multiple hubs worldwide Woodside aims to accelerate growth with multiple hubs worldwide Woodside aims to accelerate growth with multiple hubs worldwide

The company is aiming for production of more than 72 million barrels in 2006, up from 58 million this year, and close to 120 million barrels by 2008.

Record oil prices yesterday powered Woodside to a bumper first half profit of $512.2 million on record sales of $1.23 billion. A

lthough this was well down on 2004’s first-half $748 million profit, the previous results had been fuelled by the sale of 405 of the Enfield oil project. Underlying net profits actually surged 2% to a record $448.5 million.

Woodside currently has eight projects worth $10 billion already under way.

These include the $1.5 billion Enfield project and the $2 billion train five liquefied natural gas expansion at the North West Shelf in Australia. The Pluto LNG project and the development of a Browse Basin LNG hub were also on the horizon.

But the company said the new production opportunities would increasingly come from Africa, the Gulf of Mexico and the North American LNG market.

"Investors can expect a very busy drilling program before the year end, especially in Africa and the Gulf of Mexico," said director of exploration Agu Kantsler.

In Africa, Woodside would continue its aggressive exploration and development program, centred on its advanced oil projects off Mauritania and frontier targets off the Libyan and Kenyan coasts, he said.

The $US625 million ($812 million) Chinguetti oilfield in Mauritania would start production in February, while the feasibility review of the nearby Tiof field was scheduled for next month. Tiof is even bigger than Chinguetti but questions remain on what proportion of its oil would be recoverable.

The Gulf of Mexico also offered rich prospects, according to Voelte.

Woodside had previously said it wanted to develop a strong regional hub in the Gulf of Mexico. It had to "get big or get out".

Well, the company has now gotten big in the Gulf.

Woodside has more than 150 blocks in the region and has approved the $1.3 billion Neptune oil venture with BHP Billiton and the Midway gas venture with Pioneer.

The company said yesterday that more projects were in the pipeline.

"Watch for increased activity in the Gulf of Mexico -we're pretty excited with the potential," Voelte said.

On the demand side, Woodside was also expecting growth opportunities from the North American LNG market.

Voelte said Woodside was now eyeing several sites on the US and Mexican west coasts after folding a joint venture to build a dedicated LNG receiving terminal on an abandoned oil platform off southern California.

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