Woodside Sees Browse LNG Opening in 2021 at Earliest


MELBOURNE, May 21 (Reuters) - Woodside Petroleum expects the long-delayed Browse gas project off Australia to be commissioned in late 2021 at the earliest, after pushing out a final investment decision to the second half of 2016, its chief executive said.

Browse is one of four key growth projects for Woodside alongside the Kitimat LNG project in Canada and Wheatstone LNG off Australia, which it bought with some oil assets from Apache Corp this year for $3.6 billion.

Woodside and its partners last December postponed a decision on the Browse floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) to mid-2016. On Thursday it said a sign-off is now expected in the second half of next year.

Some costs on Browse, previously estimated at $45 billion when it was designed as a land-based project, have been cut by between 15 and 30 percent, the company said.

Chief Executive Peter Coleman said Woodside was well positioned to pounce on opportunities like the Apache deal in contrast to most companies in the industry that are reining in spending and selling assets to cope with an oil price slump.

"We're in a great situation here at Woodside with our balance sheet and the activities in front of us to put some real distance between ourselves and our peers over the next couple of years," Coleman said.

Alongside Browse, Kitimat and Wheatstone, Woodside is speeding up work on its Greater Enfield project, a development of some oil fields off Western Australia that were previously seen as uneconomic, but which can now be developed more cheaply as rig and subsea hardware costs have fallen.

The company now aims to make a final investment decision on Greater Enfield in 2016.

It is also stepping up exploration, with drilling off South Korea, Myanmar and Cameroon, to help rebuild its reserves and improve the balance of oil and gas in its portfolio, which is heavily skewed to gas.

"We've got lots of choices in front of us," Coleman said.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)


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