Unplanned shutdowns hit Woodside Petroleum

Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) revised down its forecast production for 2013 by up to 5% yesterday, from between 88-94 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMobe) to between 85-89 million.

In the company’s ASX release, Woodside said the reduction is partly due to an unplanned shutdown at the company’s flagship Pluto LNG site, and partly the result of a delay in bringing back the Vincent floating LNG production vessel which is currently out of service for refurbishment.

Both issues appear to be short-lived, but for investors the drop means that production growth for 2013 will reduce from the estimated 4% to 11% indicated at the company’s full-year briefing.

The announcement came as a surprise to an already twitchy market, sending shares in Woodside down 3.4% by the end of the day. It was a big fall relative to the S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO), which closed down 1.72%, but not far off the drop seen by miner BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP), whose shares were knocked back 3.2% to close at $31.05.

Foolish takeaway

Woodside’s management has previously declared a focus on optimisation and high reliability of the Pluto production facilities given its importance to the company’s production targets. Such a valuable asset may face teething issues, but should not be a concern for investors who have bought with their sights on Woodside’s long-term LNG production potential.

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Motley Fool contributor Regan Pearson does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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