August 20, 2009 3:00 am

Woodside in talks on Pluto LNG

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Woodside Petroleum, the Australian oil and gas group 34 per cent owned by Royal Dutch Shell, said it was in talks with at least four potential parties to buy gas from its expanding Pluto liquefied natural gas project as it reported an 11 per cent drop in full-year profits.

The A$12bn ($9.9bn) Pluto project in Western Australia is seeking new customers to help underwrite its expansion.

The first LNG processing train at Pluto is 72.5 per cent complete and Woodside has initiated front-end engineering and design work on two further trains.

Large long-term agreements for Australian LNG have been signed with India's Petronet and PetroChina, underlining Asia's rising demand for energy.

Woodside reported profits down from A$1.02bn to A$898m in spite of a rise in first-half production to a record 40.1m barrels of oil equivalent.

The profit number was dragged lower by weaker commodity prices.

The group is sticking with its current year production target of 81m-85m (boe).

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