Pluto begins LNG production

WOODSIDE Petroleum has moved a step closer to shipping its first cargo of Pluto LNG, with the $A14.9 billion project starting LNG production.
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The news was announced earlier today, with Woodside chief executive officer Peter Coleman describing the start of LNG production as a "defining moment".

"Pluto cements Woodside's position as a major supplier of LNG to the Asia-Pacific region and builds on our position as a global leader in upstream oil and gas," he said.

While the start of LNG production brings the first shipment of LNG closer, no date has been given as to when it will be.

Woodside only said it would "soon be loading its first cargo" aboard the Woodside Donaldson LNG tanker.

Woodside was originally targeting first LNG cargo by the end of March.

Pluto LNG will be headed to foundation customers and project participants Kansai Electric and Tokyo Gas.

Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the start of LNG production was a momentous announcement for Woodside, its partners and Australia.

"This project is very important to the energy industry and the national economy more broadly," he said.

"The project has faced difficult conditions, and I welcome the news that Pluto is now in production, with LNG ready to be shipped to customers in Japan.

"Once Pluto reaches full production Australia's total LNG exports will increase from around 20 million tonnes per annum to 24.5 million tonnes per annum."

The project is expected to contribute 17-21 million barrels of oil equivalent to Woodside's 2012 production, in line with previous guidance.

In steady state, the long-term average Pluto production is expected to contribute about 37MMboe to Woodside's annual volumes.

The project has generated more than 5000 Australian jobs and delivered more than $7 billion in local content.

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