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Australia: Woodside gains environmental approval for Pluto LNG project

14 Oct 2007

The Australian leading oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum Ltd has confirmed that it has been given the green light to start work on it’s A$12 billion Pluto liquefied natural gas project in northwestern Australia after the federal government gave environmental approval for the development. Woodside is 34% owned by Royal Dutch Shell and has said this is the last of the key state and federal environmental and heritage approvals required for the project to proceed. 'This approval allows for construction of the Pluto LNG project to be commenced,' Woodside said in a brief statement to the Australian Stock Exchange. It did not provide an exact date for work to commence and a spokesman for the company was not immediately available for comment. Woodside has already spent about $800 million on the project, which is based on its Pluto and Xena gas fields located about 190 km northwest of Karratha, and has committed to spending an additional $11.2 billion on the project. Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull was reportedly under pressure to approve the project before Prime Minister John Howard called an election, which is believed to be imminent. The federal opposition would not guarantee it would agree to Pluto being approved during the caretaker period before a new national government is formed after the election, the Australian newspaper said last Friday. Woodside has already signed 15-year sales agreements worth billions of dollars with Japan's Tokyo Gas and Kansai Electric, totalling up to 3.75 million tonnes of LNG a year. It expects to sell the remaining output through additional term contracts or spot sales. First delivery is expected in late 2010. Source: Forbes

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