ConocoPhillips: Darwin LNG Expansion Decision A Long Way Off

DARWIN, Australia (Dow Jones)

ConocoPhillips (COP) Tuesday dispelled rumors a decision on a planned expansion of its Darwin liquified natural gas plant is imminent and said both the Caldita and Greater Sunrise gas resources remain possible sources for a new processing train.

The oil and gas giant is looking to add another train to its Wickham Point LNG joint venture, but a company spokesman said rumors construction will start within months are incorrect, with lots of work still to be done.

"We are looking for additional supplies of gas, but at this stage, that is all work that is ongoing," he said.

"We are still doing appraisal work and doing the economic and technical evaluations, so we can't give a timeframe."

Wickham Point, a joint venture with Inpex Holdings Inc. (1605.TO), Santos Ltd. (STO.AU) and Tokyo Gas Co. (9531.TO) currently has a capacity of 3.2 million metric tons of LNG a year, using gas from the Bayu Undan field in the Timor Sea.

The joint venture partners have permit from the government to boost output to up to 10 million metric tons a year, but ConocoPhillips said it is too early to say what the size of the second processing train will be.

The spokesman confirmed the company is still looking at both the Caldita gas discovery and the Greater Sunrise field as possible sources of gas for the second train.

"Greater Sunrise would be one of the options that would be considered along with a number of others," he said.

ConocoPhillips has a 30% stake in Greater Sunrise alongside operator Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL.AU) with 33.4%, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) with 26.6% and Osaka Gas Co. (9532.TO) with 10%.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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