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Australia Cyclone Shuts Varanus Gas Plant, Halts Gorgon Work

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Apache Corp. halted gas production from Varanus Island and Chevron Corp. suspended construction at the A$43 billion ($43 billion) Gorgon project in Western Australia because of Tropical Cyclone Carlos.

Carlos is a Category 2 cyclone that a week ago struck the city of Darwin, more than 1,800 kilometers (1,150 miles) to the northeast of the Gorgon site on Barrow Island. The storm is 20 kilometers south of Exmouth and moving southwest, the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website at 8:50 a.m. local time. Winds as strong as 155 kilometers per hour are possible along the coast west of Onslow, the bureau said.

Production from Varanus Island will resume “when weather conditions permit,” David Parker, a Perth-based spokesman for the U.S. company’s Apache Energy unit, said by telephone today. The plant is Western Australia’s second-largest producer of domestic gas and provides more than 30 percent of supplies.

A La Nina weather system may boost the number of tropical storms in Australia, the bureau said this month. The cyclone season typically runs from November to April.

Construction at the Gorgon liquefied natural gas venture, which Chevron is developing with Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, was suspended yesterday, Guy Houston, Perth-based spokesman for Chevron said in an e-mailed statement.

‘Slaughtered’ by Storms

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. said the Enfield oil field and the Cossack Pioneer project off Western Australia remain shut because of the impact of storms in the area, while the Vincent field is closed for maintenance, Francine Tonkin, a Perth-based spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.

Woodside has been “slaughtered” by the series of storms that has inflicted “horrific” weather on its northwest Australian operations, Chief Executive Officer Don Voelte said this week.

“It’s been rough as hell,” Voelte said as the company reported earnings Feb. 21. Woodside lost 20 days work at the site of Pluto LNG project at Karratha, he said.

Woodside operates the North West Shelf Venture, the biggest source of gas for Western Australia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Sharples in Melbourne at bsharples@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Clyde Russell at crussell7@bloomberg.net

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