(Updates with Pluto update in seventh paragraph, closes shares in fourth.)
Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-largest oil and gas producer, said fourth-quarter sales increased 17 percent, driven by higher crude prices.
Sales climbed to $1.237 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, from $1.058 billion a year earlier, Perth-based Woodside said today in a statement. That exceeded UBS AG’s revenue estimate of about $1.12 billion.
Woodside is among companies planning as much as A$200 billion ($208 billion) of liquefied natural gas developments in Australia to tap rising Asian demand for the fuel. Chief Executive Officer Peter Coleman faces higher costs, funding challenges and sales competition from the U.S. as he seeks to develop more than A$70 billion in LNG ventures.
Shares of Woodside declined 1.9 percent to A$33.48 at the close of trade in Sydney, while the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed.
Production in the fourth quarter fell 6 percent to 16.6 million barrels of oil equivalent, compared with the UBS estimate of 15.3 million barrels. Woodside received an average oil price of $113.80 a barrel in 2011, up 41 percent.
The company said last year it expects its Pluto LNG project in Western Australia to cost A$14.9 billion, the third increase since November 2009. Pluto’s first cargoes are scheduled for March, six months later than Woodside expected.
“No material change is anticipated” to the scheduled start of Pluto, Woodside said in the statement.
Woodside, seeking more gas to underpin a Pluto expansion, said that it won’t proceed with the Xeres-1 well off Australia’s northwest coast. Talks with other holders of gas resources to supply Pluto are continuing, the company said. “Technical difficulties” hindered the completion of tests at the Xeres gas discovery, Woodside said last year.
--Editors: Keith Gosman, Aaron Sheldrick
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