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Woodside Focused on Southern CA for LNG Location

With a promotional launch to its ambitious liquefied natural gas (LNG) plans for California now complete, Australian-connected Woodside Natural Gas Inc. is focusing on finalizing its proposed onshore receipt site for regasified LNG shipments along the Southern California coast. Woodside will make public its final site decision next month, a Los Angeles-based spokesperson said Tuesday.

With its parent company, Woodside Energy Ltd., being Australia's lead developer of Northwest Shelf natural gas and LNG production and shipping, the newly created Los Angeles-based unit plans to transport between 750 MMcf/d and 1.4 Bcf/d of LNG from western Australia to the Southern California coast and then regasify it aboard a newer generation of LNG ships and put it into a 15-mile subsea natural gas pipeline to Sempra Energy's transmission pipeline system.

(No receiving utility has been officially designated or targeted, but anyone bringing regasified LNG supplies into Southern California has to connect with the Sempra utility gas transmission backbone system.)

Although its LA-based spokesperson said the company is having ongoing "discussions with a variety of people," Woodside will not specify if Sempra Energy or its Southern California Gas Co. utility are among those involved. California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey already acknowledged being briefed by the company on its general plans, and various other California governmental officials supposedly have been talked to by the Woodside unit that was specifically created last year to pursue the California market for LNG.

Woodside stresses safety and environmental advantages to its concept of operating an LNG delivery and regasification system without investing in a more time-consuming fixed receiving terminal (on or offshore) that typically costs about $500 million (www.oceanwaysecureenergy.com). The key is a new generation of LNG vessels that hasn't been built yet.

The company is currently in the process of reviewing various technologies and should be selecting one soon, according to another spokesperson for Woodside Natural Gas. Therefore, the company is not estimating a specific time frame for the development process, emphasizing it is just beginning the permitting process for its proposed subsea pipeline.

The president of Woodside Natural Gas, Jane Cutler, is a drilling engineer who earlier in her career helped other large energy companies with major developments in her native Australia and various Far East locations, such as Vietnam. Before joining Woodside last August, Cutler led two financial services companies providing retirement planning for Australian workers.

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