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Chevron Halts Australian Gorgon LNG Production Temporarily

Chevron Corporation CVX, one of the largest integrated energy companies in the world, announced that its $54-billion worth Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) development has been shut down temporarily due to technical problems. The Gorgon LNG facility is located off the coast of Australia.

On Mar 7, Chevron commenced the production of LNG and condensate from the massive Gorgon project that holds the key to its becoming one of the largest LNG suppliers globally over the next four years. Last month, the company also sent the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo to a Japanese customer from the project. However, within less than a month of commencing production, the project got hit by mechanical faults at a cooling plant.  

Definitely the event has dealt a big blow to Chevron, the operator of the development with a 47.3% ownership. Exxon Mobil Corporation XOM, the largest U.S. oil company by market value, and Royal Dutch Shell plc RDS.A have a 25% stake each in the development. The remaining stake is held by Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas and Chubu Electric Power. Investors should know that 15.6 million metric tons of LNG is estimated to be produced every year from the three production lines once the Gorgon project is completed. Moreover, the development is expected to generate sufficient natural gas that will help in providing electricity to 2.5 million homes in Australia.

Chevron hasn’t been able to give the details of the technical faults but assured that it will come up with a solution very soon as a site team is working there.

Although the news is not in favor for Chevron, according to traders, the development’s production halt will likely boost Asian LNG prices that have plunged roughly 80% from the peak reached in 2014. Weak LNG prices are owing to an oversupplied market amid low demand.

San Ramon, CA-based Chevron currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that it will perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.

A better-ranked stock in the energy sector is Vanguard Natural Resources, LLC VNR, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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