Cyclone brews off west Australian oil region

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PERTH — A tropical low has formed on the remote west Australian coast on Tuesday and may develop into the region’s fourth cyclone later in the week, the Bureau of Meteorology said, potentially threatening some offshore oil and gas fields.

A tropical low has formed about 400 km northeast of Broome at 3 p.m. local time and may turn into a cyclone later on Thursday as it moves west away from the coast, the bureau said.

MEO Australia Ltd, exploring in the Timor Sea off Australia’s north, said it had begun to evacuate a drill-rig at the Zeus-1 well in the Carnarvon Basin.

The region is home to some of Australia’s largest oil and gas projects, among them the onshore North West Shelf liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plant and several offshore production sites.

Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton Ltd/Plc  also have iron ore operations in the area.

A cyclone would be the season’s fourth, following Tropical Cyclones Dominic, Billy and Anika.

Dominic, the third cyclone of the season which occurred just last week, forced the shut-in of nearly 220,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil production — about 45 percent of the country’s total daily output.

www.reuters.com

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