Bloomberg News

Cyclone Lua Closes One-Quarter of Australia’s Oil Production

March 14, 2012

Tropical cyclone Lua churning off the northwest coast of Australia has forced energy companies Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Santos Ltd. (STO) and Apache Corp. (APA) to suspend more than a quarter of the country’s daily crude oil production.

Woodside, Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, has stopped output at the Vincent and Enfield oilfields, the Perth-based company said today in an e-mail. It also halted production at the Cossack, Wanaea, Lambert and Hermes fields.

Apache Corp. shut the 8,800 barrel-a-day Stag field in response to the cyclone, currently about 610 kilometers (379 miles) northwest of Karratha. Nonessential offshore workers in the area, including Varanus Island, have been pulled out, the Houston-based company said in an e-mail today.

Cyclone season in Australia typically runs from November to April, and can affect oil and natural gas production, mining and port operations. Lua, moving northwest, has so far shut a total of 103,800 barrels a day of oil production, compared with Australia’s daily output of about 393,000 barrels last year.

Santos, the country’s third-biggest oil and gas producer, has stopped output at the 8,000 barrel-a-day Mutineer-Exeter oil project in the Carnarvon Basin, the Adelaide-based company said today in an e-mail.

Woodside (WPL)’s Cossack, Wanaea, Lambert and Hermes produced a combined 27,000 barrels a day at the end of 2011, according to the company’s fourth-quarter production report. Output from the fields is processed on the Okha floating production, storage and offloading vessel installed in September.

The Vincent field produced about 40,000 barrels a day in the fourth quarter, while Enfield’s output was almost 20,000 barrels daily, according to Woodside.

Pilbara Region

Lua is expected to intensify into a category 3 storm from category 1 as it spins southeast toward the Pilbara coast later this week, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a notice issued at 3:04 p.m. local time. The bureau issued a high-seas warning.

A category 3 storm, on a scale of one to five, with one being the weakest, is characterized by very destructive winds reaching up to 224 kilometers an hour with ocean swells as high as 3.7 meters.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO) and BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the second and third-biggest exporters of iron ore, ship through ports in the Pilbara, the largest exporting region of the steelmaking raw material. Woodside is operator of the North West Shelf liquefied natural gas project in northwest Australia.

To contact the reporters on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney at; James Paton in Sydney at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebecca Keenan at; Amit Prakash at

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