Australia's Woodside, BHP, Santos Halt Output; Cyclone Nears

MELBOURNE Mar 26, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL.AU), BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and Santos Ltd. (STO.AU) said Monday they have halted production as Cyclone Kara builds off the coast of Western Australia.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a warning for category three Kara, which is intensifying as it moves southwest towards the coast with winds gusting up to 215 kilometers an hour.

A Woodside spokesman said its floating production vessel at the 100,000 barrel-a-day Cossack Pioneer oil field, which is part of the North West Shelf joint venture, stopped production late Sunday. Production has also ceased at the smaller Legendre field but Woodside said its Enfield operation is unaffected at this stage.

Separately, BHP Billiton said it has shut-in its Griffin field and there hasn't been any impact to its iron ore operations yet.

Oil producer Santos said the Mutineer-Exeter floating oil rig it operates in the Carnarvon Basin offshore Western Australia would be moved out of the path of the cyclone for an indefinite period.

"It's been shut in since yesterday morning and they're preparing to disconnect it from the buoy and sail out of the path of Kara and that will be happening this afternoon," a spokeswoman for Santos said. Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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