Australia oil fields restart as cyclone passes



SYDNEY (Reuters) – Oil firms began restarting operations off western Australia on Wednesday after a cyclone passed through the region and forced the shutdown of production platforms accounting for nearly half of Australia’s oil output.

Separately, miner Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc (RIO.AX)(RIO.L) said it had restarted iron ore loading operations in western Australia’s Port Dampier after a halt due to the cyclone, which packed winds of around 135 kph at its peak.

The cyclone, which has now weakened to a storm, had shut in 218,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil production since Sunday, accounting for about 45 percent of Australia’s daily oil output.

No injuries were reported from the storm, with only minor damage caused to power lines and roofs, the Fire & Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia said on Wednesday.

Santos Ltd (STO.AX), the country’s third-largest oil and gas producer, said on Wednesday it had restarted its 14,000 barrels per day Mutineer-Exeter oilfield.

BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP.AX) (BLT.L), Australia’s largest oil and gas producer, said it expected to restart its key 53,000 bpd Stybarrow oil field off western Australia by Thursday afternoon.

Operations at the smaller 8,000 bpd Griffin field are expected to resume in a few days after previously planned maintenance work.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd (WPL.AX) said it had restarted production at its 39,000 barrels per day Vincent oil field and was looking to resume output at the Enfield and Cossack Pioneer oilfields as well as the Angel gas platform.

Enfield, Vincent and Cossack Pioneer have a combined output of about 130,000 barrels per day.

Apache Corp (APA.N) had suspended production at its Stag and Ocean Legendre oil fields that have a combined output of 13,200 bpd. It had said on Tuesday it expected to restart the fields on Wednesday. A spokesmen could not immediately confirm that the fields had restarted.

Rio had halted iron ore exports from Port Dampier, one of the world’s largest iron ore loading terminals, with an annual capacity of about 140 million tonnes.

Six iron ore carriers were sent out to sea for safety, though ore mining was not affected, it said.

(Reporting by James Regan and Fayen Wong; Writing by Jonathan Standing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)



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