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AWE Expects Bids for Indonesia Project in a Couple of Weeks

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- AWE Ltd. expects bids in the next couple of weeks from potential partners to buy as much as half of an oil project off Indonesia that the Australian energy explorer estimates will cost more than $600 million.

AWE plans to complete a deal for a stake in the Ande Ande Lumut development in Indonesia by the end of September, Bruce Clement, managing director of Sydney-based AWE, said in a phone interview. The company yesterday deferred a final investment decision until the first half of 2014.

“A number of interested parties are doing due diligence,” he said yesterday, declining to name any of the possible bidders. “The interest is coming from mid-cap oil and gas companies with capable balance sheets and an Asian strategy.”

AWE hired Credit Suisse Group AG earlier this year to find a partner in Indonesia as it seeks to bid for fields across Asia. The company last year acquired two Indonesian oil blocks from Malaysia’s Genting Bhd., including Ande Ande Lumut, and in May boosted the estimate for the project’s recoverable oil by 33 percent to 101 million barrels.

The Australian company is also looking at Newfield Exploration Co.’s assets in China, Clement said. Newfield said earlier this year it was exploring strategic alternatives for its international assets, including holdings in Malaysia and China. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was leading the process, according to Newfield’s statement at the time.

‘Within Means’

“Our strategy is to grow the business in Asia,” Clement said. “One thing we’re not going to do is overextend the company. We’re not going to be out there raising equity. We will manage within our means.”

AWE shares fell 0.4 percent to A$1.35 at the close in Sydney, valuing the company at A$705 million.

The Indonesian project is expected to cost more than an earlier estimate of $600 million, Clement said, declining to give an updated budget projection.

AWE is pushing back the investment decision on the Indonesian venture to next year because of a delay in contracting plans for the floating production vessel, it said yesterday in a statement.

The company expected to complete the process to find an investor for the Ande Ande Lumut venture by mid-year and to decide in the third quarter whether to go ahead with the project, Clement said in January.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Paton in Sydney at jpaton4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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