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Delays Hound Woodside Petroleum’s Browse LNG Venture

Difficulties in sourcing funds as well as seeking buyers and regulatory approvals have taken a toll on Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia's second-biggest oil company after BHP Billiton Ltd.

Analysts at UBS reportedly said the company may defer an investment decision on the planned Browse liquefied natural gas venture beyond the third quarter of 2012.

The company also expects to develop a second stage at its Pluto LNG project once it begins exports in March.

Last week, Woodside announced it expects to generate some 73 million barrels to 81 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2012. Though it was 27 per cent higher than 2011 goals, it was below UBS' forecast of 91 million barrels, dampening investor confidence.

Analysts from Merrill Lynch cut Woodside's rating to underperform, noting the energy giant is its least preferred large-cap stock.

"In our view it now loses solid existing asset base performance as an offset to growth uncertainty," David Heard told The Wall Street Journal.

UBS slashed their rating on the oil producer's shares to ''neutral'' from ''buy."

The Perth-based company, Australia's ninth biggest stock by market capitalisation, fell 5.8 per cent to A$33.36, its most since Nov. 9, 2010, at the close of Sydney trading.

Woodside had grand plans of making its Pluto LNG project one of the fastest LNG projects ever built. However, the Pluto dream burst into a bubble since encountering cost overruns and delays following the rise in the cost of raw materials as well as labor expenses.

Woodside discovered the gas field in 2005 and decided to proceed with the venture in 2007.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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