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AFX Europe (Focus): Australia's North West Shelf gas project receives boost from gas discovery ( 29 March 05


Mar 29, 2005: SYDNEY (AFX) - Australia's North West Shelf gas project has received a boost from a new gas discovery announced by project operator Woodside Petroleum Ltd.


Woodside, about one-third owned by Shell, said the Pluto-1 exploration well in its 100 pct controlled WA-350-P permit area, about 110 km from the North West Shelf project's North Rankin offshore production platform, has encountered a 209-meter gas column.


The discovery in 976 meters of water lies between the ChevronTexaco Inc's Wheatstone and the Urania gas field discoveries.


UBS, in a research note last week, said if Pluto is successful it could be linked to Wheatstone and in future tied-back to the North West Shelf Project.


It said such a development could ultimately deliver up to around 4 trln cubic feet of new gas for the project which exports liquefied natural gas to Asian markets.


UBS said the additional reserves could underpin new LNG sales contracts, and could also possibly support a sixth LNG onshore processing plant for the North West Shelf project.


The project partners are expected to soon formally announce a decision to construct a fifth 4.2 mln metric ton a year LNG processing plant.


The six equal participants in the North West Shelf project are Woodside, BHP Billiton, BP, ChevronTexaco, Shell and Japan Australia LNG -- comprising Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp.


China's CNOOC is also a member of the North West Shelf Venture but does not have an interest in North West Shelf infrastructure.


At 1.30 pm Woodside shares were up 0.45 aud at 24.75 while the S&P/ASX 200 was down 28.9 points at 4,107.5.


(1 usd = 1.30 aud)




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