Woodside Natural Gas Announces U.S. Maritime Agreement

Woodside Natural Gas today announced a commitment to U.S. staffing and flagging of its regasification ships for the proposed OceanWay natural gas project. This action was officially conveyed by Steve Larson, President of Woodside Natural Gas, to Sean Connaughton, Administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration.

"Woodside Natural Gas worked closely with the Maritime Administration on this issue," said Steve Larson, President of Woodside Natural Gas. "We are dedicated to the highest level of safety and security for our project, and U.S. flagging is consistent with that commitment."

    In taking this action, the Santa Monica-based company commits to:

    -- Employing licensed U.S. citizen crew -- Both regasification ships will
       employ officers and crews of U.S. licensed mariners once the ships are

    -- Providing training opportunities for U.S. mariners -- As part of this
       commitment, Woodside will also work with the U.S. Merchant Marine
       Academy, state maritime academies, and other certified training
       facilities as sources for cadets and unlicensed seafaring personnel,
       offering training opportunities on natural gas cargo ships.

OceanWay, a proposed project to provide an alternative source of much-needed natural gas to California, will be one of the cleanest, safest and most secure natural gas delivery systems in the world. OceanWay will use a ship and buoy system to deliver gas to California, unloading at two buoys more than 28 miles offshore, southwest of the Los Angeles Hyperion sewage treatment plant, and connecting into the existing gas network via undersea pipelines.

OceanWay is an environmentally sensitive, safe and secure solution for California's energy future, delivering much-needed natural gas for consumers while minimizing its environmental footprint. OceanWay would:

    -- Protect the environment by meeting stringent federal and state air and
       water quality standards.

    -- Preserve ocean views because OceanWay would not require the
       construction of any onshore storage facilities or permanent offshore
       processing structures.

    -- Ensure community safety by locating the project 28 miles offshore, far
       removed from population centers and existing shipping lanes.

    -- Use proven technology, relying on ocean air most of the time for
       converting the gas and a buoy system similar to one that performed
       reliably and safely during Hurricane Katrina.

    -- Provide a secure and reliable energy source for California, providing
       up to 15 percent of California's annual natural gas demand.

    -- Protect consumers by establishing a critically needed new natural gas
       portal on the West Coast and thereby helping reduce price hikes and
       potential black outs.

Natural gas is one of the cleanest-burning and most widely used energy sources available today. It is the same "blue flame" used throughout homes for cooking, heating and drying clothes, and it is the fuel of choice for low-pollution buses and other public vehicles. Natural gas is a vital part of California's current and future energy portfolio, providing more than 40 percent of the state's electricity. Ninety percent of power plants built in the U.S. in the next 20 years are expected to use natural gas to reduce greenhouse gases and other emissions.

However, California's energy future is at risk. Natural gas supplies accessible to California are limited, and as a result, prices have doubled since 2001. California's growing population and booming trillio--dollar economy will demand even more energy supplies in the years ahead. The state's population is expected to grow by almost 21 million from 2000, reaching nearly 55 million in 2050. California's $1.5 trillion economy amounts to 17 percent of the United State's gross domestic product, making California the sixth largest economy in the world.

Yet California produces just 15 percent of the natural gas it needs to meet current demand. California currently does not have an operating port for the importation of natural gas. Instead, the state relies on pipelines from other states and Canada to deliver 85 percent of its natural gas needs. California is now facing unprecedented competition for those gas supplies from the fast-growing states of Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, as well as high-demand northeastern states and Canada.