From: Reuters
Published January 1, 2008 09:23 PM

Cyclone veers away from Australia's northwest coast

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Oil companies have begun to resume production in Australia's remote northwest coast after government meteorologists on Sunday cancelled a cyclone warning for category two tropical cyclone Melanie.

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The bureau cancelled cyclone warnings along the coast as Melanie, packing winds of up to 150 kph (94 mph), was moving away from the coast and was expected to remain offshore, it said on its Web site (www.bom.gov.au). A spokesman from U.S. oil major Chevron said on Sunday operations on Barrow Island, which were partially shut in overnight, would return to full production by Sunday evening, while its Thevanard Island field remains shut in with personnel returning on Monday morning.

The fields have a combined production of about 8,000 barrels per day (bpd). Santos Ltd's spokesman said its 5,000 bpd Mutineer-Exeter field was shut in since Saturday but production was expected to resume by Monday evening as the floating production storage and offloading vessel sails back to location.

Melanie is the first storm of the November-to-April season to form in Australia's 'cyclone alley', which is also home to the world's biggest iron ore deposits and major oil and gas fields. Normally the area sees about five storms each season. In March, a powerful cyclone forced oil companies, including Woodside Petroleum Ltd and BHP Billiton to shut about 180,000 barrels a day of production, half of Australia's output, for nearly a week.

(Reporting by Fayen Wong; editing by Sue Thomas) © Reuters 2008 All rights reserved

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