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April 23, 2012

Woodside lifts revenue and flags Pluto debut

Filed under: Resources — Tags: , , — Tom Murphy @ 3:15 am

WOODSIDE Petroleum has reported a 20 per cent increase in first-quarter revenue as higher oil prices offset output declines due to cyclones, and says it expects to produce liquefied natural gas from its $14.9 billion Pluto project in the coming days.

Pluto is a game-changer for Australia’s biggest pure-play oil company as it will roughly double its LNG exports at a time when customers in Japan, South Korea and China are paying top dollar for cleaner-burning fuels.

Woodside also said it had sold a stake in a gas permit to South Africa’s Sasol that could contain resources to support an expansion of the Pluto project, and that it had also discovered more oil at its Laverda prospect off the West Australian coast.

Higher oil and LNG prices helped push Woodside’s revenue for the three months to March 31 to $US1.2bn ($1.15bn), up from $US998 million a year earlier.

Woodside won’t release profit figures until its first-half results briefing in August.

Quarterly production was down 10 per cent to 14.1 million barrels of oil equivalent from 15.6 million after tropical cyclone activity in Western Australia shut projects including the North West Shelf LNG terminal.

Pluto was most recently scheduled to ship its first LNG cargo last month, so investors were relieved Woodside maintained its 2012 production guidance of 56 million to 60 million barrels of oil equivalent, and another 17 million to 21 million BOE from Pluto. “The operations team is well into the start-up sequence with first LNG anticipated in the coming days,” Woodside said. “LNG vessels are being readied to arrive at Dampier.”

The company doesn’t have enough gas to expand Pluto and said its next exploration well, Vucko-1, would be drilled in the current quarter.

Perth-based Woodside said it had sold 25 per cent of a gas permit in the Ragnar hub off the coast of Western Australia to Sasol, without disclosing a price. Talks with other gas resource owners that could process their gas through an expanded Pluto are continuing.

An oil well called Norton-1 designed to appraise the Woodside Laverda field had encountered oil and gas, underpinning a recoverable resource of more than 100 million BOE, Woodside said.

Woodside shares closed 49c higher at $35.04.


March 21, 2012

Mining companies prepare brown coal bids

Filed under: Resources — Tags: , , — Tom Murphy @ 3:42 am
The Baillieu government wants to ramp up brown coal mining.The Baillieu government wants to ramp up brown coal mining. Photo: Justin McManus

MINING companies are preparing bids to extract billions of tonnes of brown coal from the Latrobe Valley under controversial plans being promoted by the Baillieu government, raising the prospect of a new South Gippsland port to export it.

Coal technology firm Exergen says it will bid for up to 1 billion tonnes of brown coal for export to Japan and India and for use in a new demonstration power plant.

Another firm, Australian Energy Company Limited, is seeking up to a billion tonnes of coal for export as briquettes and for a fertiliser project.

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The state government has confirmed details of a draft cabinet submission outlining plans for a competitive tender of brown coal allocations and a public relations push to convince the public of its merits in the era of climate change.

Energy Minister Michael O’Brien said Victoria was ”the energy hub of the country” and the government wanted to ramp up mining to exploit the state’s vast brown coal reserves to generate jobs and investment.

Exergen head Trevor Bourne told The Age the company had been talking with the offices of Premier Ted Baillieu and Mr O’Brien about its plans.

He said Exergen would use technology to remove moisture from brown coal, lowering its carbon emissions and making it more suitable for export. It had backing from Indian energy company Tata Power and Itochu Corporation of Japan.

He said Exergen also wanted to build a 7 to 10 megawatt $20 million demonstration power plant, backed by Australian firms Thiess and Sedgman.

”I think our technology fundamentally shifts that paradigm on brown coal. We can reduce the CO2 emissions using our technology on brown coal to that of using gas with combined-cycle technology,” he said.

Australian Energy Company Limited chairman Allan Blood, who believes low-emissions centrifuge technology to remove moisture from the coal could be applied on a large scale, said a rail line could easily be built from the Latrobe Valley to a bulk shipping wharf at Port Anthony in south Gippsland, which is already being developed.

He said the private sector would foot the entire bill, with several infrastructure funds and global groups expressing interest to finance, build and operate the facility, and allowing other industries rail access to the port.

”Chemically it will be probably the most pristine coal in the world,” Mr Blood said.

His former company, Australian Power and Energy Limited, previously won an allocation of coal in 2002, which was later sold to another firm. Exergen lobbied the former Bracks and Brumby governments in 2005 and in 2009 for coal allocations, seeking support for a $1.5 billion export plan which was later dumped.

A Labor source involved in the 2002 allocation and who was around for the 2005 lobbying said: ”The brown coal export push is led by a group of fairly anonymous businessmen with no track record of success in project delivery or job creation.

”They spent most of the last decade pestering Bracks and Brumby and now they see a new target in Baillieu.”

Environment Victoria’s Mark Wakeham said Exergen was making ”the same bold claims” as it had before ”and it appears the Baillieu government is taking the bait”.

Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson cautiously welcomed the brown coal push, saying: ”Brown coal exports represent the potential to develop new technologies, industry and jobs in the Latrobe Valley.”

University of Melbourne climate change scientist Professor David Karoly said current use of brown coal for electricity generation had made Victoria’s carbon intensity worse than in China.

March 12, 2012

Mining growth locked in: BIS Shrapnel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tom Murphy @ 10:57 pm

BIS Shrapnel’s Long Term Forecast Update says the rapid expansion of minerals-related investment is providing a significant boost to the Australian economy.

“These projects are locked in, and will occur irrespective of events in Europe,” the report says.

It says ongoing strong growth in China and the rest of emerging Asia will continue to support minerals prices and the Australian economy more generally.

“The engineering construction industry is benefiting most from this activity, but sections of other industries are as well, including some areas of manufacturing, transport, wholesale trade, accommodation, and professional and business services” says Tim Hampton, BIS Shrapnel senior economist.

According to the report, the flip side of the minerals boom is that record high commodity prices, coupled with the poor state of many economies offshore, has seen the Australian dollar rise to post-float highs in nominal terms and near record levels in real terms.

Hampton says the tourism and international education industries and many parts of the manufacturing industry have suffered as the high Australian dollar has eroded competitiveness at the same time weak western economies are holding back foreign demand for goods and services.

“Other industries are also suffering due to the high Australian dollar, including retail trade as Australian households spend more of their money offshore. Many firms in professional and business services are also under pressure because the high Australian dollar is encouraging firms to take these activities offshore,” Hampton says.

The report says business investment outside the mining industry has been weak as a result of businesses deleveraging and maintaining a cost-containment/cash-preservation focus since the global financial crisis.

It says negative news coming out of Europe and the United States has weighed heavily on consumer and business confidence.

The report says private dwelling and non-dwelling building activity has been low and that this under-investment creates pent up demand. It says this will drive activity from late 2012, provided funding is available and consumer and business confidence does not take another hit.


February 18, 2011

Aptus Welcome’s Harish Chhabria to our Melbourne office as Recruitment Consultant

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tom Murphy @ 3:16 am

Aptus Personnel would like to welcome Harish Chhabria as a recruitment consultant in Mining & Resources and Oil & Gas. Harish started with us this week in our Melbourne office however he will work across all states of Australia.

Harish comes to Aptus with many years industry experience in both Engineering and Technical Sales with the resources sector. Harish is a reputable professional across his field of expertise and he will complement our balance of recruitment experience and industry specific knowledge.

If you would like to speak to Harish please feel free to call his mobile on +61 420 963 591 or email Harsih on harsih@aptuspersonnel.com.au